Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night…

It’s amazing, in writing fiction, how much research can be required.

It started off a simple question.  And tumbled larger and larger, bouncing up high and ricocheting wild and fast, with me running about it like a gnat, one moment ahead of my question and the next behind, often at risk of being squashed by its various and sudden new directions.

Whoah!  And yet at the same time, keep going, crazy tiger!  🙂

It turns out many of the books I now need to read are indeed very close to me, shelved in the stacks of the New York Public Library’s main building on 5th Avenue.  All I must do is pass between the two guardian stone lions and beneath those weighty pillars.  But these books I want–and I’ve checked on this–are books I can never take out of that building.  No, those books are in the closed stacks.

Peer at them, I may.  Read them, mayhap.  But remove one precious page from the august institution–nay.  Not one. 

That’s fine.  I love libraries.  I’ll sit there and pontificate and research and screw my brain (and ergo my dependent face) into all sorts of shapes as I contemplate how to fit all my pieces together, loyal to both reality and imagination.

A million years ago (though some might call it twelve years back), I remember a professor of mine nudging me to start on my thesis already. 

“But I’m not done researching,” I whined, terrified of the commitment of writing.

He looked at me stonily. “You’ll never be.  No-one ever is.”  It had taken him ten years to finish his PhD.  I didn’t want to spend ten doing my thesis.

So I stopped and began writing.

So my process now, knowing what a glutton I am for research–and I am, I’m the first to own it–is not to separate the two worlds out.  I research while I write.  The details can shift if truth demands it.  But I will find a truth that matches my tale. 

History is too varied for me not to find the perfect key for my little lock that I’m crafting.  Lots of peepholes, lots of things to sneak a peak at; it’s too easy to search and search and search, growing addicted to the bramble and siren song that is historical research.  But I’m gonna find the answer to mine little question and all the teeny rivulets that have sprung from it.  And it’s gonna rock.  🙂

And indeed it’s been rocking again, after a bit of a hard spell.  Felt like slogging through mud at times, surrounded by a thick and glutinous fog, heavy and unrelenting.  But slogging and slogging regardless, with a dash of reading great new stuff (new to me, at any rate), has paid off.  The story is COMING ALONG.  🙂

I wish you guys success too!!!  How’s your writing going??

Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library

Bryant Park at night, behind the New York Public Library

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About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
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6 Responses to Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night…

  1. ralfast says:

    The New York Public Library….how very lucky you are.

    🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      I know, I’m MAD LUCKY. It’s insane. And therefore also madness it literally took me till this past weekend to finally become a member. And silly as it might sound, I am pleased that of all the holdings in NY (for there are several branches) most of my books are stored away in the main building that I’ve always loved. Watch the room be boring as all get-out, though 🙂 Hahhaah! Nah, a room full of old books couldn’t be boring…

      *suddenly imagines the most boring topics anyone could write about and thinks, hm…*

      🙂

  2. Yarnspnr says:

    Stop researching and write? What an odd sort of idea! As long as the written word is available to me, as long as my to read pile remains above 50. As long as one last historical fact remains uncovered to me…I shall continue to research. I will outlive it or my stories will die with me!

  3. Oh, I always research and write at the same time. I have to. One bit of information leads to another fascinating bit of info which leads me to… well, I’d never get any writing done if I waited. Your teacher was correct. You never stop researching and learning.

    And I *love* William Blake.

    • sputnitsa says:

      I know!! It’s incredible. It’s almost scary. I’ll find something delicious and want to use it, and sometimes… Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, and who knows what the final tally’ll be. But if I waited, or did just one thing or another, I’d increase the speed of my burnout, I’m sure. This way works… 🙂

      Blake rocks. Oscar Wilde, too. So sad how he died so young. That man was hilarious.

      *hearts them both* 🙂 They had character. Hm. They were characters. Yeppers. 🙂

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