February 17, 2011
The act of putting paper, pen and the past together opens a melodic doorway to the soul from which tumbles all the disparate pieces of a person’s life. The puzzle of writing a memoir is to slowly and carefully untangle the strands of warp and weft until the patterns of the tapestry—your life—emerge. It is very tricky business.
Most, but not all, of the contributing authors for Into These Hands, Wisdom From Midwives had a hard time getting started. As my grandmother used to say, “Beginning is half done,” and so it was with this project. To assist with the inertia that threatened to stalemate the whole project, I created a schema called, “Ten Weeks, Ten Questions.”
“Ten Weeks, Ten Questions” was a template designed to take each contributing author through her life in stages so that she only had to write a short, one-page piece at a time. The first few questions encouraged the author to reflect on the past—where she was born and the early influences that shaped her life. Next, she was asked to write about what brought her to the path of midwifery and how that lifestyle impacted her—the joys, challenges, risks, sacrifices and accomplishments. And finally, each author was asked to look to the future and provide some sage femme wisdom and inspiration for women of reproductive age and the next generation of midwives to whom she will be passing the torch. It was a very good template. It did, however have one flaw. “Ten Weeks, Ten Questions” did not take ten weeks! And that is a big part of why the creation of this anthology was, for me, a lesson in determination, patience, fortitude, resilience and trust.