12 February, 2006

Toppgraphy

About two years ago, I had the idea of writing a family journal for my children. Not a chronological history of my family, rather a whimsical storytelling tapestry of past incidents, present challenges, and future dreams. Since my children were born in Germany, and have extended family on the east coast and west coast of Canada, grandparents on two islands in the Caribbean and family in Sicily, Italy (to all the uninformed, don’t ask for details), most of whom have died in the last years or whom they have only met sporadically, it seemed like a good thing to write this journal so they could brush up on what sort of extended family they have, or had at a future point in time.

Then I had the idea of involving my siblings, their children, my mother, and my two uncles. Their homework was to contribute Anything (e.g. favourite recipe, family joke, interviews, etc.) to the project. Oddly, or perhaps not so, very few members of my extended family contributed to the project, even though they seemed very enthusiastic at the beginning.

Still, I finally decided not to wait any longer and set a deadline last fall for submitted material, and I have been working diligently trying to make the documents I did receive into some sort of well ordered document ever since. Not only are the writing styles very (understatement) different, I have a long document (approx. 60-70 pages) that is solely text, as well as another which consists of 18 photos of my sister’s embroidery work. Who would have thought that a nice layout would be such difficult thing to achieve? Though maybe the real challenge is trying to make a cohesive document which such a variety of content and writing styles.

I finally hit the bookstores last week to see what the experts have to say about document topography. I quickly became overwhelmed by the onslaught ideas from the “experts” who can not agree about even the most fundamental matters… So, I ended up buying one coffee-table-book about some family’s memoirs with a large selection of photos, which I liked, and I am using its layout as the layout on my own journal.

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