Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Transition time


I once heard nonfiction writer Tracy Kidder describe starting research on a new book as "jumping off a cliff." You go from a subject on which you've become an expert to one about which you really have no idea. You are, actually, the place your reader will be: interested enough to know more, but not thoroughly knowledgeable. Later, when you're up to your eyeballs in research, you'll have to remember what the starting stage feels like so you can define the terms your reader will need to know. For now, though, there's the general feeling of "ack!" (That's a professional term.) How will I ever learn all this? How will I ever write it? Can't I go back to my original subject that I know so well (because I just wrote a book on it)?

Yup, it's transition time. My novel is off in the hands of test readers. The school year is ending. We're packing up our stuff to move across town. I've promised myself to stick to short projects for the summer: articles, short stories, some poetry. (The start of which each generally contain their own mini "ack!" as I settle into a new subject.) I'm combing the Writer's Market, trying to remind myself to see the positive (all the possibilities!) rather than the uncertainty.

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