Switching Gears

Things are going to work a little differently on this blog here on out. While I still love the idea of documenting Chicago and the rest of my world, I got derailed pretty quickly. And then right when I started thinking about getting back on track, I got a new, shiny, amazing idea, and I have to pursue that until it’s finished, before I can do anything else.

I’m writing a book.  A novel, to be specific. A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post describing a minor event from over a hundred years ago. It was an interesting little anecdote, but it wasn’t thoroughly researched (not that it needed to be for that particular blog), and there were so many gaps in the story. I must have written two dozen questions while reading it, stuff that the post hinted at, but never really explained.

And that was when I realized, by answering all of those questions, I could have one hell of a book.

Because it’s historical, and archival records from late 1800s to early 1900s weren’t exactly well kept, there’s still gaps. I’ve been researching for almost a month, and the gaps have just gotten wider. It doesn’t help that at least two of the main characters changed their names, went by stage names, and, I believe, at least one of them was adopted and I don’t know where she came from prior to age 16.

photo by luckey_sun http://flickr.com/photos/75279887@N05/6886478111 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
photo by luckey_sun shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

I quickly figured out there’s too much uncertainty for a nonfiction history book, so, instead, I’m taking the facts I do know, some fuzzy genealogical connections, and some stuff newspapers had made up for sensationalism, and turning it into a big, sprawling novel, from 1880s New York tenements to turn-of-the-century show business, from prison in the Gilded Age to the post-WWI influenza outbreak.

So, because there is so much to the book, so many areas that need careful research, I’m going to be writing on a number of different subjects here. I need a way to organize myself, because following up on one historical lead just keeps leading me down various rabbit holes.

I need to be able to organize my thinking, to make my research make sense. There is so much minutiae that needs to be meticulously documented, and I need to practice, practice, practice writing about things that, at this moment, I know so little about. I figure I’ll be researching and blogging like crazy until the end of October, then, with the help of NaNoWriMo, get a huge push in November to actually shape the story.

My biggest fear now is that, there is this story that I am desperate to tell — but do I really believe I’m good enough to do it? All I can do is try.

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