Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Research Is Done - It's Time To Write!

Today I visited the Colorado State Archives and the Colorado Historical Society Library. As usual, the rush of adrenaline kicked in as I drove to Denver anticipating the discovery of some great treasure that would give me a better understanding of the cattle rustling story. I parked near the archives and was pleased to see Terry Kettelsen, the State Archivist, walking by. He recognized me and we had a nice visit walking into the archives. Then it was time to get to work. I looked at some records, but didn't find what I was looking for, so I decided to move on to the Historical Society Library.

At the library, I requested some manuscripts that looked promising. However, as I looked through them, I really didn't find anything new.
I jokingly said to the librarian, "Since I'm not finding anything new, I guess that means it's time to write the book!"

Driving out of Denver, I was disappointed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what I'd said to the librarian was true. I have most likely uncovered everything I'm going to find. Oh, I won't count out the research serendipity that seems to find me every so often, but I have to accept that there are just some pieces of information that were never written down, or if they were written, have disappeared from the record.

This means I have everything I need to write the book on Ernest Christison and Ed Watkins. Now it is up to me to piece the facts together and tell their story. It isn't easy for me to admit the research is done. It has been an integral part of my life the past two years. And I am as addicted to digging for treasure as my Christison ancestors were to digging for gold. But it's time to move on and and write the story. Not that I haven't been writing the story -- I have parts of 3 chapters written. Now I'll be able to write with more certainty.

I'm excited to be able to lose myself in the story and let the story tell itself. And now I have a different type of research to do. I'll be visiting Salida and Buena Vista more often to listen to the whispers of the valley, to soak up the landscape, and to transport myself back to the 1880's as I write the rest of this summer and fall.

Some of the disappointment is falling away as I look forward to the next step in this book process!


Dianne E. Butts said...

For what it's worth, on a writer's loop discussing the question of when is it time to stop researching, one answer has stuck with me: When you're finding the same information over and over (shows it probably reliable info) and when you're not finding anything new. Sounds like you're there!

Dianne E. Butts said...

Chip MacGregor talked about the difference between writing creative nonfiction and a novel based on facts in his July 27, 2009, blog post here: http://www.chipmacgregor.com/ I found his thoughts interesting and helpful.

Lori E said...

Kind of like when the student surpasses the teacher. Good luck.

LynRiffel said...

You go, Girl!