One of my favorite stories to teach college freshmen was Bartleby the Scrivener written by Herman Melville in 1853. Here our central character simply refuses to work any more, repeatedly stating “I prefer not to.” Of course this supplied those same students with an ongoing chance to excuse their lack of preparation for class. They calmly would say, “I prefer not to.” At least they will never forget Bartleby.
But my great great Aunt Lucy, also born in 1853, has become the source of my research and writing lately. I have discovered much that fascinates me about her, the places she lived and the work she began in middle age that took her from rural Wisconsin to the Chinese section of San Francisco and on to China itself.
I have become so engrossed in aspects of this research that I realized that I had the makings of a book. In order to make some semblance of order out of the myriad of bits I am collecting, I chose to buy the software Scrivener to help me put the pieces together. For the last couple of days I have been learning how to use the application. Rather than following my usual practice of leaping straight in and missing 95% of what any given product has to offer, I have been systematically learning how to apply it to my particular purpose. Endlessly flexible, Scrivener will help me in a way that I find unexpectedly necessary.
I will continue to blog, but probably more about life in general, as I did before I found Lucy. Please let me know if any of you have used Scrivener for a large project and what hints you might share with me.