Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Kerlan Collection

I did manage to write that one thank you note yesterday, and to print out my student's paper (though not to read it), and actually also wrote three book reviews for Children's Literature. But I spent most of my surprisingly productive morning bundling up two sets of manuscripts, for How Oliver Olson Changed the World and One Square Inch, to donate to the Kerlan Collection.

It is one of the nicest things in my writer life that the fabulous Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, repository of so many manuscripts by so many brilliant and famous authors, two decades ago agreed to accept my donations as well. For years I wondered what I was supposed to do with my original manuscripts: those precious handwritten pages, those scribbled-over drafts, those long letters from my editors. How could I just throw them away? But, hater of clutter/hoarding that I am, how could I save them without crowding myself out of my own house? And now I have the satisfaction of both saving them and not saving them, by sending them away to be preserved - forever? - in the temperature-controlled vaults at the Kerlan.

I visited the Kerlan two summers ago to give a talk there and had the thrill of seeing my manuscripts - my manuscripts! - in a display case in the hallway outside the collection. And I saw the students to whom I was speaking handle the manuscripts - my manuscripts - while wearing white gloves! Of course, that was quite an amazing thing for me to behold.

But it was mainly just a tribute to the creative process itself - to the sacred task of putting marks down upon paper, blindly, hopelessly, draft after draft - and then, lo, here is a book. The journey did lead somewhere, after all.

So yesterday I assembled all those stages of the journey, from handwritten notes, to versions commented on by my critique group, to drafts revised from editorial suggestions, to the final edited and copyedited manuscript, to an inscribed first edition of the book itself. Now they are on their way to Minneapolis, the work of many months and years, to their sweet resting place.

1 comment:

  1. I like the life you radiate through your blog. Thank you for sharing. :)