On Writing: Chasing Echoes and Ghosts

For me, the energy and desire to write always seems to get bogged down in the necessity to research. It’s just part of the process. In my fiction, a certain amount of factual research is needed in order to pin characters, places and things down in a realistic, believable way.

When it works, and I gather information that qualifies some details, it fills me with a sense of accomplishment and closure: I feel that I can build on the objectivity I have established, and move on from there. However, there are times when I can’t get the answers I’m looking for, or no clarity or objective detail can be established on some topic. In those cases, I feel like I’m staring into a gap in the tableau I’ve been developing, and in my insecurity and self-consciousness, I become convinced that the gaps are big enough to drive a truck through. I’m left with a lingering lack of confidence.

If I cannot establish some kind of adequate, believable, factual precedent for an idea, character or locale, then at some point, I find myself faced with “Plan B” – I use my imagination and whatever other information I have gathered in order to close the gaps.

When it doesn’t work, I feel like I’m chasing wisps of ideas, ghosts of people, down unfamiliar alleys, following echoes to who knows where.

I don’t get writer’s block. I get lost in a conceptual morass, looking for the way out. Eventually, once I dig back into the world I’m building, I’ll find the beacon I need to make my way.

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