I love the title of the recent She Writes contest: Passion Project. It perfectly sums up how I feel about my current work in progress, which is based on the diaries of my great aunt. For my family (and anyone else who is interested), I am publishing excerpts of her entries on “Hattie’s Blog,” choosing representative years’ entries for each day. Here are some examples from last week (Will is her husband):
August 2, 1931, Sunday: In the rain Friday evening Mrs. Elshire and I dried little chicks, about 4 weeks old, and then today the hogs got all of them but 2, there were 80 of them, so I am just sick about it.
August 2, 1939: Will fixed the window in the north porch with new bolts and washed the window, and we doped my bed springs, and it has hundreds of bed bugs underneath. I couldn’t get at them unless it is tipped over, so I hope to sleep well tonight.
August 5, 1920: Was a hot day but breeze cool at times. I raked in forenoon and Howard and Will mowed rest of hay on Dave’s then went to Spencer for Rope for stacker about 11 a.m. and returned at 1:30 p.m. and never brought ice. I was disappointed as I had freezer cool and cake made. In p.m. they stacked hay and Harlan drove stacker team. Will is all in from another Fistula and I am all in from, Oh my!
August 8, 1929: Louise was out riding with Harry Furrey when we got home.
August 8, 1935: We were all ready at 9 a.m. as Thomas, Lemoyne, Lee, Boyd, Lawrence and Sydney carried Dave’s body to Jake’s truck and into the church, where Requiem High Mass was said by Fr. Grether.
Some of my passion for this project is personal. The Louise and Harry who were “out riding” were my grandparents, not yet engaged at the time of the entry. However, I am also drawn to her entries for the glimpse they provide into one woman’s life and, on a larger scale, another time. I am struck by how Dave’s body (her brother) was in the house where the family stayed the night before the funeral, and how he is carried to the truck, then to the church, a reminder of a time when death was not nearly as removed or sanitized as it is today.
I love her voice, her candor, her obvious passion for life. I lose myself in Hattie’s diaries when I work on them. I lose track of time and feel as though I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. Here. Now. I am in flow.
That is how we find our Passion Project. I am still working through exactly how I will transform Hattie’s life and words into a book, but I’m getting closer (and welcome any thoughts or ideas). What I do know is that I must write it, day by day.
As soon as I read it, I fell in love with this quotation:
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison
I’d like to offer a companion quotation:
“If there is a book that only you can write, then you must write it.”
What is your Passion Project? What book can only you write? Are you writing it?