Surviving November: My Life After Jonestown Moves Forward

My book project about my life in Jonestown is never far out of my thoughts, just as the people I’m writing about never are. Even as I work at my own sometimes-glacial pace, the writing is still a mainstay in my life.

I have to admit I stopped writing at one time because it was not going the way I wanted it to. It just was not what I wanted to say. I didn’t like it. Sometimes when I read back what I’d written, I realized I had missed something, or something that had sounded one way in my mind hadn’t translated that way onto the page. I set deadlines for myself to complete a chapter every two weeks, but sometimes those two weeks turned into a month. I wanted to give up. I lost my motivation. So I needed to regroup.

The first thing I had to do was find a quiet place to write, someplace where my mind could be clear, a room with a vibe to write. Of all things, I found that room at work. I stay a couple hours late after work and work on the project. I have been doing this the last few months. I just start typing, my thoughts flow easily, I can think and remember without leaving something out that may be of great importance.

I changed the process. Now I just write. I think, I write, I let the words flow from my mind onto the pages of what I hope to be a very enlightening project.

I must leave you and continue my journey. Just keep your eyes and ears open. I am nearing completion.

(Dawn Gardfrey was in Georgetown with her grandmother, Ruby Neal Johnson, on November 18. Her other articles in this edition of the jonestown report are The Loyalty of Johnny Moss Brown, My Friend, Sonje Regina Duncan, and Keeping in Touch through the World of Social Media. Her previous articles are here. She can be reached at