I have not posted in a while because I have been ill. It’s some kind of intestinal something-or-other that nobody has been able to diagnose yet. So, I’ve been suffering with a lot of abdominal pain without knowing the cause and without an effective treatment even for pain management. So, I haven’t been writing or even wanting to write. I haven’t had any proper creativity in me for weeks. In fact, this pain seems to have sapped my belief in my creativity. I have been feeling as though my poetry is the worst kind of drivel and no one could possibly be interested in hearing any more of it. And, I haven’t been able to manage even the lamest of outlines for a short story. Then out of the blue a German publishing house expressed interest in my thesis. Now, clearly a new editor at this little academic house was doing some ‘cold calls’. He saw the title of my thesis on the university website and contacted a member of my thesis committee who is known in Germany. I contacted him to let him know that I was the author and not the well-respected scholar on my committee, but I received the publisher’s boilerplate request for a manuscript anyway. So, I pulled my thesis out of cold storage, dolled it up and sent it to Germany. I had originally thought the likelihood of them publishing my manuscript pretty slim, but they have agreed to publish it. It is a small publishing house and my thesis is not exactly popular non-fiction (post-World War II veterans’ agriculture policy), but the request to publish has definitely made my week. It made me realize (again, really) that I am an historian – I was trained to be one and I feel like that has always been my calling. I like telling stories of the past with an eye to the future. Stories that remind us that we are not alone – whatever fight we are fighting has been fought by others; whatever walk we are walking has been walked by others. Stories that remind us of our humanity – that we all love, feel pain, and want what’s best for our friends and family, no matter what religion we practice or who we vote for. This kind of writing requires a lot of research. Often I feel like I have to have a university in a particular discipline to feel competent in a particular area – how can I possibly write about women police officers in the 1970s? I haven’t written a thesis about that! I don’t know enough about the bombing of Hiroshima to write competently about that? Except, of course, my training as an historian taught me to read critically and write carefully, so of course I can write about anything that turns my fancy! For some reason I have always felt awkward writing fiction that has no research behind it. I started a story about werewolves last year and felt the need to read everything written about werewolves and possibly watch most movies. It paralyzed me. So, while I love to do research and feel that what I am called to do, even in my fiction, is to tell basically true historical stories I realize I have to temper my feelings of incompetence and just write sometimes. To that end I have decided to work on just one story for the next year – it may not take that long, but I wanted to make sure I had time to accomplish my task. If poems come I’ll jot them down, but I’m not feeling good about my poetry right now. Which is why my Wednesday post has become “Writing Wednesday”. I will be posting about my writing – it could be a poem, it could be an interesting bit of research I’ve come across, it may be a paragraph I feel particularly good about, or it could be about how I am the worst writer in the world and am a complete fraud. (I hope there aren’t too many of those!) So, I will embark upon my quest to write something mildly interesting, hopefully informative and a little entertaining in the next year. Wish me luck!
Be Lovely to Each Other,