Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leaf Watching Writer-Style

   It seems as if I blinked and, poof, all the trees around our house instantly went from green to an artist's pallete of yellow, orange, and rusty brown, with dashes of muted red here and there.  And slowly, leaves are falling, making their twirling, spiraling journey to the ground.  Alison hates this time of the year (it marks the end of summer's warm weather and the beginning of winter); I find it calming (I can sit in one of our sunrooms surrounded by pots of flowering plants, coleus and whatever else we can lift and haul indoors and think about stuff.  Yes, I know, I can think about stuff any time of the year, but during this brief transition time I always go back over my writing year to evaluate it and think about future projects).
   Generally, I go over the negative aspects of my writing much more than the positive.  Did I really put in enough time at the computer?  Why did writing the backmatter and locating images for a new project seem to cause me so many problems?  Etc., etc., etc.  I think this is my 'beat yourself up' approach to making future projects better.
   Which does eventually lead to thinking about those future projects (and they are subjected to the same sort of examination -- is the research solid, don't wait so long to get images, oh, and don't write another 350 page manuscript!).  Now the good news is that Alison and I do have two future projects to work on together and she is pushing for a very tight schedule for the one we're about to start (and I agree that we took a little too long to figure out how we were going to work together on our first co-authoring adventure).  But here's the thing; I don't really know what nonfiction I'm going to be writing about on my own in the future.
   I sit there at night in the sunroom, the tiny humidifier chugging along to send out a warm mist, and wonder why no subject has really caught my attention in months that would prompt me to dig in and do some serious research.  I mean, I LOVE doing research.  I keep nosing around for a topic or an individual that I'm going to like enough to still be working on it years from now.  Usually I come across these by reading anything and everything I can get my hands on and stumble onto something that gets my attention.  Not this year.  And I did a great deal of reading this summer, so it wasn't for lack of trying. 
   The good news is that I haven't given up.  I'm still looking and reading.  And hoping -- that something amazing will come drifting into my life like a perfect red maple leaf.  Wish me luck and I'll try to keep you posted.  Meanwhile, enjoy the leaves.                   


T. said...

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom is a recent book that has inspired me in unexpected (almost unsettling) ways. Maybe it can captivate and guide you, too.

Susan Kuklin said...

Gee, Jim, I'm going through the same thing. I sometimes wake up with a perfect idea and by mid morning, it's gone. After I finish a book I know I will never again find a topic that will hold my interest. But eventually it comes, so please hang in. Good luck. Good luck. Good luck.

PS I brought our succulents inside yesterday.