You are not allowed to bring in your knapsack. You are not allowed to write with a pen. You are allowed to borrow a pencil.
Every visitor must fill out a form. The questions are about identity and purpose.
Who am I? I thought, amused, as I filled in my name and address.
In answer to the question about my reason for research, I eliminated the first several possibilities and checked the box, “Other.”
A good reason, I think.
I was there to read Ain’t I a Woman?, a feminist newspaper published in Iowa City by a collective, 1970-74.
Where will my research go?
Perhaps I’ll write an essay.
Perhaps I’ll write an e-book.
I would self-publish an e-book rather than go through a mainstream publisher.
For one thing, I am doing this for fun.
I also have no contacts in publishing. My few writer friends were dropped from publishers’ midlists long ago.
Old editors out, old writers out. New editors in, new writers in.
I am due to self-publish an e-book next year, says my family. Yup. They scarcely care what it is about. My parents’ generation self-published memoirs of small-town Iowa, tedious books of genealogy (did we really have such splendid ancestors?), and cookbooks.
Now it’s time for our generation to take over.
Our experiences differed from those of our parents. We taught Latin, traveled around the world, worked in retail, became computer techs, rode RAGBRAI, and worked in halfway houses. And is it my imagination, or do an unusual number of us work out of our homes?
Will I interview family for an e-book?
Will I write a memoir?
Will I write a novel?
I will not be writing a vampire novel. Sorry, no werewolves, angels, centaurs, or mermaids either.
Of the otherworldly types listed above, I prefer mermaids.
“Iowa City has always been a death trip for me,” a woman told me back in the ’70s.
Not for me.
The ’60s? Great. The ’70s? A little rocky at the start, but mostly good after that.
I won’t actually be writing about Iowa City.
Or at least not much.
I haven’t lived there in years. I no longer know anyone.
The town was flooded in 2008 and Hancher Auditorium and the Music Building are being rebuilt. The Art Museum is (temporarily, I hope) housed in the Student Union. I don’t know what has happened to the Art building.
My city is gone.
It may not be my town anymore, but, nonetheless, it is fascinating, and I have great affection for it.