Thursday, June 26, 2008

Research Jungle/ Creative Black Hole

by Kathie Shoop

How do you know if you've gone astray in the research jungle, foraging for endless supplies of teeny details that will never matter to your characters or plot?

I sort of feel like I've stumbled into library/internet quicksand and am losing sight of what I'm actually doing as I dig deeper into all the information that lives in the world, right at my fingertips.

Part of my problem is that I have no "spare" time this summer. Meaning, between consulting and the articles that are due and my children being home from school, there is very little time for my mind to rest, to weave the disparate facts of my library forays into my story, to surprise me with unexpected connections and meaningful ways to use boring historical facts...

I've got nothing.

I'm trying not to panic. I'm slowing down, lowering my expectations for the summer, trusting that if I just have fun with the kids and live in the moment, my fictional life will not suffer, that it will spin its own web and pop up, ready to go in September.

Of course, there's a big part of me that doesn't trust that, that fears if I lay low I'll wake up in September and wonder how I stopped being a writer.

So, I'll trust and do little tidbits of work when I can, culling through info, knowing that somehow it will all come together.

How about you, do you ever have these pockets of time where your creativity is truly hampered, or at least it feels that way? How do you deal with it?


Annette said...

Oh, gosh, Kathie, ALL THE TIME! During the 15 months that my dad was in the nursing home before his death, I was spending several hours a day with him. Hours that had, at one time, been writing hours. Then my cat had terminal cancer. THEN my mom had those three major hip surgeries since last August and was in rehab for months.

We ALL have our trials and tests of our will. You just do what you can and try to let it go at that. You will NEVER stop being a writer. You may be less productive at times, but as someone very wise once said THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Enjoy your kids. They are top priority.

kathie said...

Hi Annette, thanks for the support! I am enjoying the kids, not having to rush around, keep track of backpacks, etc., just having fun. I think part of my anxiety comes when I stop and think "What am I doing enjoying all this stuff, not working????" I know that the work is happening all the time, whether I'm at the keyboard or not. I'm just a little antsy...thanks for the perspective check and congrats to you for maintaining your work while in the midst of difficult issues, not simply things like "I'm enjoying my life at the expense of writing..." or things like my scheduling issues that in the context of what could be wrong, really isn't. You sound very upbeat--that's awesome!

JennieB said...

Hah! I'm where you are, Kathie. With two kids home from school for the summer, a book due on Monday, promotion to get lined up for November, and a new book to write by January. I'm taking the month of July off, along with the first week of August, because I know there's no way I'll be able to do anything big while they're here. I'll do little piddly things - right now I'm revising in my spare moments, the manuscript that's leaving the house on Monday - but I can't actually write anything. There's no time to get to the quiet place (at the risk of sounding like a loon). I'm telling myself I'm regenerating, to be ready to go on Monday, August 11th at 8:15 am, when the kids are safely tucked away in their classrooms and I'm back home, alone!

Joyce said...

I think it's a good idea to take some time off from writing every once in while. For me, that's the time when all the ideas seem to come. When I'm ready to write again I have all kinds of options. When I'm immersed in a project, I can't think of anything else.

Kathie and Jennie, bad news--it doesn't get any less hectic when the kids get older.

Anonymous said...

I work full time and the past week I have been fighting a sore throat and now a headache for two days. Needless to say the writing was not happening I looked at the page and so couldn't focus my head.

kathie said...

Hi are living my life--except my book is not yet published!! Congrats on that, it must be thrilling even in the midst of all the kid stuff. I'm viewing all this "time off" as regenerating as well. I just get worried that maybe I'm wrong, that it's impossible for regular life to encourage regeneration, but I have to trust it. I too, am looking for that quiet spot. It has to be there in between the noise. I'll let you know when I find it!

kathie said...

Joyce--I think you are absolutely right--that in not writing, the sparks can fly (I just have to be sure I capture them when they do). I think my panic is hidden in the fact I haven't had that happen this'll come, I know it, thanks so much for your thoughts!

Kathy--you really are fighting an uphill battle. I hope you're feeling better and are back on schedule--your writing one--soon!