Men like Theodore Roosevelt Sr. sponsored Left-Handed Penmanship contests after the Civil War to help those wounded in the conflict move on with their lives.

I’m sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have been working hard on my Civil War Era book, the working title of which is Incorporating New York. I picked the manuscript up again the day after Thanksgiving and have put my head down and worked steadily since then. Between that and the wind down to the semester there has not been much time for writing here. It’s funny but as I have told some friends, if I can sit down and write just 50-75 words I can write 500-1000 for the day. It’s all about starting. I have another 4000-5000 words to go in the draft. I was listening to a podcast recently in which a just-published author recalled that when he told writing friends he was 90% done they replied: “Congratulations, you’re 50% done.”

My goal is complete the draft by January 26 at the latest, which is looking increasingly likely. That is a Friday and the day before the start of the spring semester. I’m trying not to lose focus or cut corners as I near the finish line. Incorporating New York is not so much a history of the Civil War per se, but an interpretation of how the city evolved from the 1840s-1870s. I’m in the postwar period now. It ends in 1878 with the death of Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and Frederick Law Olmsted’s move from New York City to Boston. The poster above is for the first of Left-Handed Penmanship contests put on from 1865-67 to help men who lost an arm in the war.

Yesterday I sat down and, to the musical accompaniment of the White Album, wrote out a list of topics I will be focusing on here over the course of 2018. That included searching historical newspapers online, finding, and saving some articles. This upcoming year marks the 100th anniversary of most of the American Expeditionary Forces’s involvement in the Great War. With this year winding down I am looking ahead to 2018. I also emailed someone I know at a cultural institution here in New York City with an idea for a small potential project for winter 2018. I don;t want to say to much right now. If/when I hear more, I will share it here. This would be a worthwhile and yet manageable endeavor. I really hope it comes to pass.

(image/New-York Historical Society)