Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Patience IS a Virtue

It's been a long time since I posted anything about the 'progress' part of my WIP. While I'd like to blame this entirely on the A to Z Challenge, that would skip a whole month of posts, and would be rather like blaming climate change on America's love of gigantic, lane-hogging SUVs (which are, living in a neighborhood of teeny, narrow, winding city streets as I do, a major pet peeve of mine. I don't blame you for wanting a nice, big car, but what kind of urban dweller needs a Chevy Suburban?? Wouldn't a CR-V do the trick?). Part of the problem, but really not even close to the whole problem.

The main problem is that I haven't made much progress. I'm still doing research. I'm still wading through large volumes of dusty sociological treatises whose main goal seems to be to make fascinating information as dull as possible. I'm still digging around for elusive information on normal people in history: not the kings and emperors; not the war heroes; just the average, rather poor people who grew and harvested all the food that the rich and fabulous people ate. (Although I did find and start watching a lovely movie called Himalaya today, which, in addition to being about normal people, has the benefit of being fictional, and therefore, designed with the express purpose of capturing and maintaining my interest. So at least there's that.)

If I sound bitter, it's because I am - not about rich people in history but about how much they HOG the historical annals. I mean, wasn't it enough to be getting all the attention while they lived? Can't they share the damn limelight now?

Apparently not.

What this means is that my pace of discovery can be measured in weeks, not days. It also means that I'm searching further and further afield for information, and reading more and more obscure works. Yes, I am that second person in the world who read your dissertation on Marriage Customs in Tibet (besides your mother and your professor, who don't count). And I'm very grateful you wrote it.

I'm also realizing more fully just how long it's going to take me to write this book. I think I can best sum it up by saying: a really freaking long time.

Do I sound negative? Sigh. I don't mean to be. I'm just not the most patient person in the world.

Which means, of course, that I have to refer myself back to my own advice: be patient (I'm referring to #7 on that list, for those who are following along). When I wrote that, I was referring to the industry, but that advice extends just as well to my own work. BE PATIENT. Remember that I've chosen to write a book that requires a stupid amount of research.

Patience really is a virtue, isn't it? The more I need it, the more I realize how true that is.

66 comments:

  1. Oh, damn it. Blogger ate my rather long comment. Blah.

    Anyway, I was saying… don't risk losing your momentum on the story because of research. A lot of that can be added in later. Most of it won't even make into the story, based on my own experience. But, yeah, don't rush it. Stories take as long as they take. :)

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    1. Blech, I hate it when that happens!! You know what, though, I think you're totally right. I get into this mindset where I think I HAVE TO RESEARCH, and then I lose momentum and interest in what I'm doing. Thanks for the knock upside the head :)

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  2. I've heard a good tactic is to write the story and insert [research this topic] in certain places. Since I don't write stuff based on our reality and I'm a pantser, I suppose it's easy for me to say, but probably a lot harder to implement, especially for people as super organized as you. :) I wish you luck and look forward to the outcome!

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    1. Ok, clearly you guys are right. Two pieces of the same advice back to back - I need a break from research!!! I have to remember that it's OK to stop and write for a while instead :) Thanks, Loni!

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  3. If I had known how long it would take me to write my first story, I never would have started. Of course now it's too late. I'm hooked!

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    1. Tell me about it. That's how writing gets you!!! Sometimes I think I should take up flash fiction...but I bet that would take forever, too, since I overwrite so much and would have to spend months cutting it down, LOL.

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  4. It's much easier to say "be patient" than to actually be patient. It's a shame history is written by the people who deem themselves as important. But I'm sure the information you're finding is out there or at least have enough, so you can keep working on your story. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you, it is! I just have to work a little harder to find it :) Thanks for coming by!

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  5. Hang in there, Liz! Sometimes the things that are the hardest to do give us the greatest rewards. But I know how frustrating it must be to feel like you're never going to be done with the research and finally get to the writing. I agree with others here: maybe you should start the story and add the research stuff later. Your characters will probably surprise you.

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    1. Yup, I agree with all of you. I guess I had to say it all 'out loud' - and hear your responses - to figure it out! Thanks, Quanie!

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  6. Correction: Patience is THE virtue. =) You're going to look back on this in a year and marvel at how much you've learned and how far you've come. It will totally be worth every second.

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    1. Yes, you're so right! Thanks for the dose of hope - I'll hold onto that :)

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    2. And let me add a wedge of cheese. ;)

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  7. First off..I agree about the SUV's and Pick ups. Most people who own a pick up never use it for what it's meant to be used for. When i want to park, they park right beside me and I can't see a thing when i have to back out..I hate them especially when they put jack up the tires so you need climbing gear to get into them...Talk about over compensating. Research can be time consuming but so rewarding. Ever try to walk to a destination by taking long strides? You will hurt yourself, maybe trip and it feels unrewarding. If you walk at a steady pace, smaller steps, you do not tire out, you do not injure yourself and you reach your destination with a feeling of accomplishment even if you are a bit tired. Your book sounds amazing and I want to read it. You are doing it the right way. If you feel overwhelmed or frustrated and take a moment to watch a great movie-good for you. We all need breaks so we can feel reborn and keep going feeling refreshed.

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    1. "I hate them especially when they put jack up the tires so you need climbing gear to get into them" LOL, yes, exactly!

      Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, Birgit. You're always so positive - I really appreciate it!

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  8. Aw, Liz. I'm sorry you're frustrated. (((Hugs)))

    I got bogged down in the research for Come Back, too. (I know it's not the same, but I was freaked out about making a mistake and getting vilified in the reviews, so I MADE it worse than it should have been. LOL) Part of the battle is finding the right sources. That's a job in itself.

    Have you tried searching Google Scholar or bending the ear of a seasoned librarian?

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    1. Thanks for the hugs, Melissa! It's a very related frustration; I totally understand :) I've been all over Google Scholar and I actually have enlisted the help of a librarian, believe it or not. I'll get there! I just have to wade through a bunch of, erm, stuff first :)

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  9. "a really freaking long time". Eek! I've got one of those too.

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  10. Patience is a virtue...but really...does it take soooo long to finish one story...and we need to finish it now!

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    1. I know! It always needs to be done *now*

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  11. Well, history is written by the people on top. No wonder there isn't a lot about the everyday activities of the common people. I'm sure it must be frustrating! Hang in there. I want to see what comes out :)

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    1. Thanks!! I will. I might just complain about it a lot in the meantime :)

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  12. "If I sound bitter, it's because I am - not about rich people in history but about how much they HOG the historical annals. I mean, wasn't it enough to be getting all the attention while they lived? Can't they share the damn limelight now?"
    Bwa haa haa haa! I've actually thought this before. Man, do you crack me up.

    Btw, I nominated you for an award over at my blog. Accept it if you dare. And if you dare not? I actually can't blame you. ;p

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    1. Hey, thanks!! I hope over and check it out :) I'm glad I made you laugh - I owe you quite a few laughs!!

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  13. All I can say is that patience does get easier the more you practice it. ^_^ And hey, we're in one of the slowest industries in the world, so learning it now will help later!

    ...excuse me while I duck.

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    1. Yeah, hey, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER!

      Wait...not.

      LOL. You're right, of course, even if it's depressing!

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  14. Just think of all the cool stuff you're learning! :)

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  15. I'm with you, Liz, on researching how normal people lived. I've found that's the hardest part of writing historicals for me. And it seems most of the Writer's Guide to....are about England. I have found them good though for giving me a grounding in the customs of the time period--and then using that as a jumping off point to see if it's the same in my country.
    I also have been known to go ahead and write and wait to fill in details I don't know yet later.
    You're so right about patience though. I think being a writer teaches you to have tons of it (as well as plenty of humility).

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    1. Yes! Totally - England or the US. Not so super helpful, are they? Since I'm looking at the other side of the world, the everyday of Westerners isn't too helpful.

      You're right - patience AND humility. Sometimes I wonder if we need those more than talent...

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  16. Liz, is there a way you could contact someone who is from Tibet (or lives there now) who could fill you in on past history better or lead you to better resources?

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    1. I've been trying, but I haven't gotten great results. I'll keep trying! :)

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  17. Patience is tough to have, but essential in the writing business. All of your research will come in handy. :)

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  18. *Insert Guns-N-Roses Patience song here* Yeah, writing take a ton of patience for sure. It really is interesting to think of all the reasons the rich take over the history books, as well as the world, even though it sucks, too. I'm sure your novel will be all the better for the work you are putting into it. Have you ever read "The Glass Bead Game" a.k.a. "Magister Ludi" by Herman Hesse? Your story kind of reminds me of that, though more modern, of course.

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    1. LOL, yes, that song is perfect :) I haven't read The Glass Bead Game, but will totally check it out - thank you!

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  19. If you're looking for day to day living from a particular era, I would look up devastating events in time, they usually portray your average Joe in the social world. Check out the potato famine in Ireland and the Yellow Fever epidemic in New Orleans back in 1853.

    There's great information out there on day to day social activities during depressive years. Not sure why. :)

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    1. Hmm, I hadn't thought of that. Thanks, Diane!

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  20. Hi Liz, you've been commenting on all of my appearances around bloggyland over the last few days, so I'm following you now. The research is why I have never considered writing a historical novel. I hope you find what you need.

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    1. Hi Annalisa, thanks for the follow, and for stopping by!

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  21. Research is TOUGH. That's why I write contemporary! I know people have said contemporary requires more research, but I don't buy that at all. For contemporary, your research can be your daily life. With history, you have to know everything about a time in which you never lived.

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    1. I'm so with you. My first book was contemporary, and while I needed to do some research, it was WAY less, and WAY easier. Next time, I'll come back to contemporary!!

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  22. Yikes, research is fun...for a while. Then I'd hate it. I agree with Stephanie!! Good Luck Liz.

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    1. Yup, exactly! It WAS fun, and now... ;)

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  23. Research does take a lot of time. I hope you find what you need!

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  24. You’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you!! I just commented on your Liebster post :)

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  25. I hear you on the ordinary people! It's so hard to get a handle on their day to day lives when most of the information out there covers the living habits and dwelling places of the rich.

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    1. I know! It's so frustrating. I can only hope that the internet is going to change that for future writers...

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  26. Kudos for sticking with it, Liz. When your novel is published, you can thank all those obscure dissertation-writers in the dedication and make their day/decade.

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  27. I agree with the early comments. Write the story down and insert the research-based passages later. I'm writing about something that I don't really know about, and that's what I'm doing now.

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  28. Depending on what exactly you are researching, it could go either way. For my WIP, I had to do a lot of research on Antarctica but THANKFULLY, my stepdad lived down there when he was in the navy. So for me, my research was interesting and was more like bonding time for my dad and me.
    But then when my plot kicked off and I had to really dig deep into the geography of places I had no clue about, it became a pain. I can't imagine doing research for historical value. I've dreamed about writing historical fiction but with my children's work, I just don't think it would be possible at this time.
    Good luck with your research, Liz. And just think... it will all be worth while once your WIP is finally a 1st draft!

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    1. That IS lucky. I think I need family members all over the world, LOL!

      Thank you!

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  29. So much in life requires patience! When I do research, I break it up into segments so I'm not overwhelmed:)

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  30. Liz, I am so impressed by your dedication to your research!! That is what is going to make your book AMAZING (sorry, had to use that word) :) when it is finally completed. I know it is so hard to have patience...I struggle with the same thing. Hang in there...it'll be worth it! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kristin! I appreciate the encouragement!!

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  31. Dang, too bad you can't earn a masters in sociology or anthropology or something with all this research you're doing. But hey, you love this story, right? So be happy you get to spend so much time in it. :) ...are ya buying that little pep talk?

    I am SO with you on the SUVs. I'm in love with my snappy little hatchback and I can't understand why so many people who live around me feel the need for vehicles four times its size.

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  32. Nice post. Patience is a virtue.

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  33. Oh yeah I know that feeling. Although, given that you've found stuff to read, I'm figuring the people who are supposed to help you, are in fact helping you.

    I'm still trying to figure out how to research without my library, because the people there are USELESS.

    Patience? I don't have it.

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