Wednesday, April 3, 2019
A Writer's Block Kind of Day
While people may disappoint, it is also people who lift us up out of our depths. For some of us, the words and actions of others are far more important than any other of life's details. Perhaps that is the case with the recent turn of events I've been experiencing. For those who shared notes of encouragement, you are appreciated more than you could know.
So...what does one do who never fails for words to put on (virtual) paper when those words stop making their appearance? I tried the usual procrastinator's approach: did everything but write. That was easy; Tuesdays are my class days, taking up half the morning in prep and the full afternoon between traveling, training, and after-class talks about what the session covered. But once dinner, dishes, and evening obligations were all clearly dispatched, then what?
I sat down to the computer, having no heart to write—nor to research, alarmingly—and pulled up some busy work on Ancestry, where I keep all the family's trees. I called up my mother-in-law's line, the easiest tree for me to work on, with big Catholic families who stayed in the same neighborhood—or, if they left town, made the move predictably to a new home base for the next several generations. There is something about working on that tree which usually is relaxing to me, so I tried that salve last night, but to no avail. Even doing the mindless work of deleting hints that I generally don't use—usually, other people's family trees and photographs of headstones—didn't help bring me to the point of readiness to write.
What is it about those unexpected experiences which knock the wind out of one's soul? It got me to thinking about what I am going to do about it—then, thinking about strategic planning in general, and then, strategic planning for the process of genealogical work. And I realized something: why, this is a job for the genealogy guinea pig to tackle!
After all, since I am the genealogy guinea pig, instead of clawing my way up to the bottom in my own miserable solitude, perhaps I can talk my way there among friends. Nothing like learning by doing. And "talking" is one way of modeling doing. It's a way of analyzing where I am, and where I need to be. It's a way of talking through the steps of getting from the admittedly miserable "here" and out of the morass into a more acceptable "there."
I've realized that most everyone who does genealogy has had moments when we have phased in and out of pursuing our family history research. Some of the reasons for that are predictable; some, like this instance, are totally unpredictable. While I might be a bit more of a research fanatic than most people—I regularly research upwards of one to three hours daily—over the decades, I've experienced times when that research has had to be set aside. Maybe a conversation on what we've all observed about how we go through those cycles might be productive. At least, it will help me think through what's been happening, and hopefully arrive at some insight on how to reach a less hopeless conclusion.
If you're game, the genealogy guinea pig is certainly game.