Morgan Rondinelli, I Was A Kid
Morgan is a scientist and a writer. Her science notebooks helped inform the papers she wrote during college, but now that she’s writing a thesis, she took her notebook to the wall to organize all of her materials in a way that served her best.
“I don’t know if mine even qualifies as a science notebook, it’s just how I’m organizing my memoir/book/thesis in progress. A notebook is almost too small. That’s why I have a bulletin board. And it’s just like right there above my desk and I can see everything at once.
“I call this my murder board. It’s kind of like when you’re solving a murder, you just put all the suspects and questions up on a board. So at the bottom, I have all the essays I’ve written so far. That’s kind of my working order, so I can quickly pull one out, switch it, move it over here, move it over there, and see sort of the big picture.
“And then on top I have themes and connections I’ve found across the writing. So I’m always adding to that note card, questions that are being asked in the writing to think about, through lines across it.
“The to-do list is ever-changing and things get crossed out and added and rewritten. I see what I want to work on next.
“And then similar titles and title ideas is more for the proposal side of things. These are books that have influenced my writing and then other title ideas for mine.
“And I even have a little blurb I wrote up about my thesis.
“Then the most fun sort of thing is the little gingerbread person. Since my thesis is about the body and each essay covers a body part and tells a memoir story in that way, I mapped out which body parts I had talked about.”
Morgan analyzed the usual activities associated with keeping a science notebook, as she did earlier, and rejected them in order to find a method for dealing with the work she is doing now.
“This is the anti-notebook! I mean the whole flipping back and forth in a notebook didn’t work for me. As you cross things out, then you have to go to a new page. I don’t know. I’d just like to be able to, like, if something’s not working, I can take it down and replace it and then it’s in its right spot. It’s all there. I just want to be able to see it all.
“My mentor said, ‘You know, you have all these digital files. I think you need to be able to see it all at once, so just print them all out. It’s going to be annoying and expensive, but you need to do this.’ I think he was saying I should put them in a binder or folder or something. And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to work.” So I went and got the bulletin board and started pinning and making notecards.”
So what makes the bulletin board work for her?
“I’ve taken everything down and reorganized it four or five times, putting them in a different order, saying “this isn’t working, I’m going to go back and change it around.’ If something’s not working, I can take it down and replace it and then it’s in its right spot.”