In an attempt to organize the 148 pages of my great-grandmother's manuscript, I began going through it paragraph by paragraph, highlighting every mention of work. Thankfully one of my cousins had transcribed our great-grandmother's handwritten life story into a Word document. In the margins of the Word document I wrote baking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc., so I could find what I was looking for when I wanted to mention that particular task in my story.
There are many versions of the children's nursery rhyme, “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush." The one I recall describes the tasks women in the past performed on certain days of the week. "This is the way we wash our clothes," for example. Using the typical Monday--laundry, Tuesday--ironing, pattern, I decided to write Never Done in seven parts—each part representing one day of the week and its related chore.
So I created seven Word documents, naming them Monday thru Sunday. Then I went back through my margin notes and transferred the work incidents into the appropriate document of the week. Later, as my novel came together, I revised the names of the parts to reflect both the daily task and what takes place in the story during that part. The appropriate workday is mentioned somewhere during each part of my story, but only as background or as the setting for a scene.
That method of organizing my story was appropriate for Monday through Saturday, but in the past, Americans considered Sunday to be a day of rest. My great-grandmother never seemed to rest, so in part VII, I wrote about the devastating effects of Spanish flu on her life, as well as the people of Colorado, and named it "No Rest."
Part I: “Cowboys and Clotheslines”