The Deeper Well

Let’s talk about our secret writing fears. I’m not (terribly) worried (yet) that my sisters will never talk to me again, or that DP will suddenly realize that I’m a giant nerd and leave me for Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Anyway, I hear she’s a jerk, and he already knows I’m a nerd.)

I’m worried that I’m not smart enough. “But…but…Indy!” I can hear you say, “you must be smart. No one else has been able to write about semi colons in a way that I can understand.” Sure, semi colons are one thing. But what if you’re writing about a field you don’t know a lot about and your writing will be read by people in that field?

But that’s not really what I’m worried about, or at least not quite. I’m worried about not going deep enough. I’m worried about shying away from some of the bigger questions because I am not a historian. I do not have time or attention span for extensive archival research. I do not understand a quarter of what I read about when I read books in [field redacted].

Maybe that’s not what I’m worried about exactly either. There is a bigger question in my work that I don’t know how to answer. I can only begin to answer it. And only for myself.

Writing is like show biz. You write to express yourself, but you write to publish to entertain. Will they be interested? Will the reviewers skewer me for shying away from the bigger truth, the harder questions, the complications? Why didn’t I become an engineer like Paternal Clause wanted?

How do you write about questions you can’t answer?

[Here is the song referred to in the title sung by my girl Emmylou.]


8 responses to “The Deeper Well

  1. I call them questions and answer them with I don’t knows but here’s my gut-guess. You don’t have to know how the wires work; you just have to know that when you flip the switch the bulb glows.

  2. The ending to a book (or an article) doesn’t need to be the end to whatever questions it explores.

    (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

    • Oh Averil as every deadline looms I sit down at the computer and I worry about the same thing, that I’ll run out of things to write about in my column. I’m in 100,000 households, waiting on hearing if it’s upped to a quarter of a million and I feel like I one of these days my synapses will just dry up and poof-away.

  3. This was the programme director’s favourite comment about me on the MA, that I didn’t go deep enough. I guess just keep pushing. And, anyway, you don’t need the extensive research because that topic is background to the main story.

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