Saturday, May 06, 2017

Catch - 22: The Copying Compulsion

Our reading room is filled with books. Bookshelves completely cover 2 1/2 walls, and the shelves are full. These aren't all our books; many more are in bookshelves throughout the house, but we have down-sized our collection in the last few years. 

The table between our reading chairs holds the lamp, and there is a small, pull-out shelf on each end that is perfect for our tea or coffee cups. Ideally, the tabletop would not be cluttered and hold only the books we are reading. The view of my end of the table, though, is in the picture. These books are in waiting . . . waiting to have a few quotes copied. And some of those books have been waiting a long time. 

Why? Why do I copy quotes? My husband asks me that every once in a while, and I ask myself that more often than I care to admit. But in my compelled nature, I need to. Years ago, I began copying stuff into a Word document. Since those are only available through an electronic device, I decided several years ago to begin hand-copying into a commonplace book that I can easily access and carry, and can read from anywhere. Realistically, I may never read back through these pages, but as with so many other things, I certainly cannot if I don't have it. I could even keep the quotes flagged in books, but I'm trying to downsize my collection and keep only the select few books, so most of these books will be moved on to someone else.I've had a few very good suggestions of other means of saving this information, but most involve another electronic device, and I don't want that dependence, nor do I even have those devices. So I guess in a way I'm trapped by my own compulsion. And that's okay with me. I do just wish I could quickly get on top and ahead of this task. If only the inside and outside chores would pause and let me catch up!


Anonymous said...

If I were to collect quotes aside from the volumes in which they appear, it would compel me to have to have a binder to keep them in. They would have to be fastened to acid-free paper, using acid-free adhesives, and protected by, of all things, acid=free document protector sleeves. The delicate nature of the quoted literature would further compel me to buy heavy duty binders with clear outer sleeves and spine in which labels facing all three sides would announce the treasured snippets of excerpted literature within. The actual project of recording the quotes for incorporation into the binder would involve all manner of decision-making matrices to determine font size and style to attempt to fit my interpretation of the mood, timeframe and geographical placement of the quote so as to honor the author as best I could imagine it being done. Finally, I would spend a lifetime reorganizing the contents in alphabetical order until I as well as my loved ones were insane from sharing my very divided attention with a project of such magnitude. So, for now, in the interest of public safety and mental health on the homefront, The quotes and concepts brought to me from the minds of so many will remain tagged but imprisoned on the very pages from where they once glistened as their inky wisdoms became indelibly set in the printed word.

Robin said...

At last you do recognize this is a compulsion! Problem is (as Anonymous also suggested), once you copy all those quotes into commonplace books, you will have yet *more* books to shelve! ;) You might want to keep in mind that someday (much further down the road), your children will have to deal with these mountains of memorable quotes.....

Janie said...

"Anonymous" appears to be channeling Doug Kay! Am I right? :)

And, Robin, yes, I do admit the compulsion! :) I'm sure some of the kids will enjoy dipping into those quotes, but I don't have books and books of them. I've learned to be quite selective in my choosing since I know I'll have to copy them!

Anonymous said...

This post, perhaps above all others you've written, seals the kindred nature of our friendship. I get every sentence of it. My husband also shakes his head. At times he asks, "What am I supposed to do with these when you die?" And, honestly, it doesn't matter. Because I fill my journals for myself. Many small notes would be incomprehensible to a stranger, but are meaningful to me because of a memory or life experience.

Rather than the quotes creating more books to shelve, they make it easier to 'read and release' and have less books altogether.

This last winter, full of snow days, I began indexing my journals. Crazy compulsive, I know, but let me say that reading through quotes I'd copied was a sea of joy. It took me back to the time I had read the book, made me remember the cover, the joy, the frustration, the responses to someone else's published thoughts.

I have a self-imposed system of reading a book: Read, flag, copy, review on Goodreads, sell or give away. (Unless it is one of those rare gems that stays.)

I copy quotes in the car when my husband is driving, about 1 hour a week. Not always as neat as I'd like, but sometimes we have to let our standards slip. During football season I get lots of copy time. Curt enjoys me joining him watching the game, but doesn't mind if I multi-task. And evenings when he's at the table working on sermon prep, I often sit down and...copy quotes! I copy quotes in the waiting room (had a fascinating conversation with my OB-GYN when she discovered me writing as I waited, gowned up, for her appearance).

Much of my reading is audio books; I mourn the lost quotes which I earnestly try to Velcro to my brain (until I can write them down) but which inevitably end up evaporating into air. Rarely, I'll look at the quotes on Goodreads and copy one or two down. But I'm trying to let them go and see these untethered quotes as part of the nature of life.