Knowing she had a knack for eloquence and humor, and plenty of stories to draw on, one of her children gave her a ream of paper for Mother's Day in 1989. In the fall of last year, they all read those memories between the covers of her book, Woof and Warp.
The memoirs, which she wrote in the first person, tell the stories of her early life in much the same way that she would if she had spoken them. Written primarily to her children, she wrote, "Relax. . . this is not going to be a confession, nor is it going to be a list of victories."
Her story attempts to leave out references to her children or other people, as she wanted the book to record only her memories. "I felt like I didn't want to write about other people's memories," Anderson commented, not wanting to record shared experiences, as the others involved might view them somewhat differently.
Anderson gave the book a title that gives a simple but eloquent summation of its contents. The "Warp" is a group of threads that run lengthwise through a piece of fabric. The "Woof" refers to the group of threads that cross through those. As she explained in the book, ". . . I believe the warp is what has been preordained in our lives: our history, our genes, our surroundings. The woof is the design we weave across the warp."
Anderson, who now makes her home in Arizona, commented that she hadn't previously had a desire to write a book of her memories as a girl growing up in rural Paynesville. Her husband had recorded some of his memories on a tape recorder before he passed away, and she had recorded some dates and events throughout her life, but she hadn't foreseen that she would ever write a book.
Then, in March of 1996, she sat down with a pad of paper and wrote down a story she had recalled of her childhood. She had planned to take it to the local grocery store, run off copies, and send one to each of her four children, but her daughter replied, keep writing, this is the book; and little by little, story by story, those individual memories turned into a book about her early years.
Anderson's daughter-in-law taught her to use their computer, and she began typing all those stories she had previously written on paper. Around August of last year she wrote the last chapter, and sent them all to a small printing business in the Twin Cities.
After she gave copies to her children, they told her she should sell some of them, being she had printed 100 copies. Word of mouth traveled in her community in Arizona, and she has now printed 300 copies of her book.
She has spoken about writing memories to groups in her church and community in Arizona, and has helped others see their own potential for writing. She has found it especially gratifying when people tell her "I read your book, and maybe I could write." Anderson expressed that a book can start with small things. It's not written all at one time.
Although she had not expected to write a book, throughout her life she has taken pleasure in writing in general, and last Christmas, her children gave her a computer. She also corresponds through letters, and recalled reading letters from her uncle as she grew up, as well as to and from other family members. "I'm a cut-out person," Anderson said, commenting that she often cuts out clippings from newspapers or magazines that might be enjoyed by the person she's writing to.
Her book, although starting simply as memories here and there, will be a treasure not only to her own children, but also for the generations that are to come. As one of her grandsons told her, the book isn't only important for her children, but also for his as well. They will have a chance to know her as not just a matriarch, but as the real person she is.
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