Tip o’the cap to my vigilant friends who humorously chided me this week when they found me doing anything unrelated to the book project…thank you for helping me keep my nose to the grindstone!
We were recently asked by one of the boy’s teachers to sit on a panel of parent authors who will discuss the process of writing, and I’ve been staying conscious of our process so I can provide useful info to these middle schoolers later this month. What struck me this past week was the importance of being aware of everything that you experience as you develop and write, and thinking about seemingly unrelated information in relation to the topic you’re writing about. It won’t always take you down a fruitful path, but sometimes it can lead you to a new resource or an epiphanic discovery or a different perspective or more refined thoughts for your work.
I typically have Today on the TV in my bedroom as I get ready in the morning. One morning last week, I was rolling my eyes about yet another segment on the newest pseudo-celeb to meet her “tragic” demise, and I was about to tune out when they introduced a psychiatric professional I have happened to admire and respect for years. I never would have thought the death of Casey Johnson would impact the development of our book, but something this guest said piqued my interest, and near the end of the interview he briefly mentioned that he had written a whole book on the topic. I tracked down the book, which had been released about a year ago, and in reading it aloud to Dave over the past day or so, it has confirmed many of our theories, as well as validated and strengthened ideas for the introduction and first chapter of our book. Through discussions about points in this other book, Dave and I have been able to bring our development to another level. We have found research to support our theories, we’ve learned of resources we probably wouldn’t otherwise have found, and the book has inspired us to put a far more refined perspective on what we had originally outlined. With these synapses firing wildly it looks like the Fourth of July here!
The point is, you never know where you’re going to find a glimmer of salient information or powerful inspiration. Read everything around you. Listen with interest to what people say, in your own life and through the media. Think. Process. Explore. Investigate. Make connections. Draw conclusions and test them. That’s the lifeblood of good writing. The chef in me calls it “marinating” time. I don’t get to the actual writing stage until I have let my ideas and thoughts marinate. Only then have I made sense of my perspective and ensured I have something meaningful to say.
We wrapped up our first interesting and thought-provoking interview on Friday – we’re thinking the first one was probably the hardest for multiple reasons – and we are excited to conduct our second one tomorrow with a fascinating, opinionated character. We’re emailing each interviewee some info in advance so they know generally what the book is about, what chapter they’re in, and some guiding questions they can think about to prepare for the interview. I spent time last week creating templates for those materials so things roll smoothly and we can be time-efficient as we proceed. Once tomorrow’s interview is done, I will marinate for a day or two and will then finally put fingers to keyboard and start crafting the beginning of the book. Hoping those crazy synapses are still firing.