A good chunk of my publishing career, God help me, was pre-Internet. Yes, the New York Times has digital archives of the hundreds of articles I've written for the paper, dating back to the 1980s, but if you looked at my home office, you'd never know it.
Back in the olden days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, when I published an article in the NYT, my husband would painstakingly cut and paste the paper on to one or two sheets and then make two dozen copies. I sent some to out-of-town family and friends (I'm talking envelopes and stamps -no email back then) and then saved the other copies in a file cabinet.
Okay, I just checked and I published 443 articles in the paper before 2003. A search for articles after 2002 comes up with 844 results. Now picture all those articles, multiply by 20 copies or so, and picture the state of my office.
Slowly, I've been sorting through them - keeping one original and recycling the rest. I'm struck by a couple of things:
- My God, I was prolific! Some days I had two and even three articles in a Sunday section. I wrote much more for Metro than I remembered. I really worked hard and rarely took a week off.
- I don't remember writing most of these articles.
- Many of them are painfully dated, particularly the health stories (the new concept of managed care!) and the many pieces about the development of the Internet - how it was influencing medical care, college searches, etc.
As to filing under the influence, I have had some sort of flu this week (yes, I had the flu shot) and keeping things in chronological order between sneezing, coughing and low-grade fever is a challenge. Yes, 1994 came before 1995. I'm almost sure of it.
Anyway, time marches on, and I'm doing all this cleaning and sorting to make room for my office to double as an extra guest room. I expect grown children and their loved ones - those very kids who I used to bark at with, "Don't bother me now! I'm on a deadline." I need to be done by Christmas. Onward.