24 August 2008

A great leap forward

I threw my index cards in the recycling bin.

That's several shoeboxes worth of index cards. They have been stored on the top-most shelves in my study, inches from the ceiling--not exactly prime storage real estate. All the same, they're not something I'm using or have any intentions to use.

I was the queen of index cards in graduate school, probably copying my dissertation advisor, who had her own shoeboxes full of them. Term papers, exams, dissertation, my first few post-job conference papers and essays, all represented in those boxes. Bibliographies. Quotations. Very little in the way of my own thoughts, outlines, reasons for copying out the quotations. Gradually I moved on to other methods of note-taking and paper-writing. Obviously, assembling bibliographies has become a very different (easier) task since the days when the only MLA bibliography was a print MLA bibliography.

I'm not even sure why I kept them for so long. Souvenirs, maybe. A reminder of how hard things used to be. Some buried wish to be like my dissertation advisor. A feeling that since I had gone to all that work, I should keep them.

But the benefit of the work, I think, is in the process. I had it, and if I needed to consult one of the books I took notes on for another paper, now, I would need to read the book again.

So they're in the bin, and they'll be gone tomorrow. At a minimum, I now have a little more storage space in my study. But I'd like to do a little magical thinking: now that the dissertation cards are gone, it will somehow be easier to complete my present book-length project. New book, new world order.

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