By the time I started I’d learned a vital lesson: too much research can swamp a story, stifle creativity, and bury the life in a novel. That happened to me with another novel, one that I tried (and failed) to write before this, one for which I’d done a tremendous amount of research, and one that, in the end, I found I couldn’t write because I was trying to write to the research instead of using the research in service of the story. Some writers thrive on digging into research as they’re writing, some on doing extensive research before they start in on the process of creation, but I know that, for me, I have to be careful to do just enough to feel that I’m grounded in the world of the story—and then let the story loose before I go any further.
I’m a fan of the Scots expression ‘What’s for you will no go by you’ - meaning something like, whatever will be, will be. But with simultaneously about 100% more fatalism, morose ominousness AND heartfelt optimism.
[A]nd the world
Whirls green on a string, then
The leaves go quiet, wink
From their own shade, secretly.
Keep still, just a moment, leaves.
There is something I am trying to remember.
I used to for a brief time work at a pub called Frankenstein’s (‘established 1818’). I was a kitchen prep, employed mostly to butterfly chicken breasts (*shudder*), chop vegetables and ‘make’ desserts by putting ice cream, sauce and bits on the pre-made brownies. But I remember it as one of my favourite jobs, because the other people in the kitchen were so much fun. The Aussie chef and his lackadaisical jokes. The fast-talking head chef. The dishwasher with no front teeth.
But best of all was the hatred the kitchen had for the accountant of the franchise, who would be referred to by his full name at all times (which is as you know a kind of curse or a way of having power over someone you cannot have power over otherwise). One time the kitchen staff got together and made a potato effigy of this man and put toothpicks in it. The potato doll stood on the counter for a few days, until it was time for the man to come and bean count and berate the staff once more for their heavy-handed use of supplies.
My favourite part about work today was when I hid in the toilets reading Frankenstein for a bit. Don’t worry, my student was taking a test.