Scrivener has turned out to work really well for me, so I have started compiling the long-delayed autobiography, partly to test it (I always use real projects, not pretend ones, when testing stuff) and partly to do a recapitulation of my life as I approach 65.
That number doesn't have any real significance, of course, but for many years it has been used in the UK as a benchmark for 'retirement'. The government seems intent on moving the goalposts now that people live longer, as the maths of tax and pensions no longer balances out.
Of course, when I dropped out I assumed the State would have withered away by now, and never expected a pension, so I feel amazed that anyone intends to give me anything for not working, but it appears they might. Not much, but a small income just for staying alive as a British citizen.
Perhaps it could offer the minimal support for the older meaning of retirement, of retreat into the forest, the spiritual retirement, or magickal retirement, or whatever.
You may note that I have not used capital letters for the title 'recapitulation' as I don't want it confused with the technical use of it by (say) followers of Castaneda. Interesting as his books seemed in the 80s, I have since come to some sort of conclusion about that rascal guru and the cult that built up around him, that makes me feel more uneasy than it did at the time.
Of course, believers may assume that my unease (like that of the pseudo-Carlos in the books) comes from living an inauthentic life, and they may have a point. Still, looking back over a life and contemplating both individual events, and the broad sweep of the story, does not belong to any one realm, genre or group.
And as 'My Name Is Earl' shows, even Scientologists like re-living or re-visiting past events and activities to discharge the energy trapped in them, or clear the karma locked down, or whatever the jargon. Psychotherapy in various forms does something similar to relieve people of trauma.
Any and all of these things may have some relevance to writing an autobiography, but it can also have the story-teller aspect of grandpa round the fire, handing on the tale of the tribe, or offering cautionary tales, or even inspirational (and possibly hilarious) teaching tales, or simply self-mocking anecdotes.
I have no idea, as I grope forward. To avoid any grand ideas I tell myself I just want a little book of anecdotes to sell at conventions, or to hand to my grand-daughter, or something.
The final outcome seems less interesting (at the moment) than the process of concentrating on putting my affairs in order, while also drifting into reverie at times.
Focus, drift away, focus, drift away... I enjoy it. The process.
To keep myself grounded in tribal history, rather than just my own little adventures, I have also embarked on what may turn out as a longer project, to compile a history of the circus. Not just whatever we mean by the word 'circus' (some people use it to mean all the variety skills of speciality acts, others to mean the modern cliche image which only dates back 2-300 years) but the specific tribe to which I belong. NoFit State.
Of course, the active members continue to create, explore and expand, and the project could prove open-ended, and subject to continuous revision, so I have decided to collect my research together not in private folders but in a public Wiki. Someone else can always take over if I bite the sawdust unexpectedly, and meanwhile anyone can join in and collaborate on the researching and editing process.
Much to look forward to in 2011!