Work in Progress #18: The Moving Light at the End of the Tunnel

I am three quarters of the way through my Emily Post biography…maybe (dare I hope it???) even further.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Except for the fact that writing a longer piece always goes slower and slower the further I proceed because I realize with every sentence I write… [Read More]

Work in Progress #17: A Quote File

I keep a quote file on my desktop where I can record interesting tidbits from the things I read. I’ve developed a list of categories to file them under so that I can access them when a particular subject comes up in a piece I might be working on:  “aging,” “being/becoming,” “freedom,” “history-writing,” “self,” “superficiality,”… [Read More]

Work in Progress #16: Leaving the Interstate

A few weeks ago, I left my desk research, loaded a bunch of books and accordion files into my trunk and drove east. I was on the Interstate for two days before I veered off onto some winding mountain roads that would lead to my destination. “Leaving the Interstate”is the perfect metaphor for the particular… [Read More]

Work in Progress #15: The Joy of a Legal Pad

There’s a time in my writing process when I have been sweating and agonizing and re-thinking how to proceed with a chapter and am terrified to actually start writing it. The amount of material I have to include seems overwhelming, I need to be sure to include enough warm, human parts in the midst of… [Read More]

Work in Progress #14: Mini-Timelines

As I emerge from the holidays and sit down at my computer again, I find it takes a long time to even remember where I was when I left off. I had written the first few paragraphs of Chapter 7 but stalled out for some reason. As I reread those paragraphs I find I don’t… [Read More]

Work in Progress #13: Holidays and Writer’s Guilt

It never fails. Every year about mid-November, my writing grinds to a halt for about six weeks. Every year, I try not to let it happen and every year it does anyway. In my defense, Thanksgiving is when our children and their families try to make it home. And Christmas is the time when I… [Read More]

Work in Progress #12: Pesky Permissions Issues

When I wrote the first draft of The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton, I quoted with wild abandon from her autobiography, her letters, and her fiction. I wanted readers to hear as much of the story as possible in Edith’s own words. I also quoted (with equally wild abandon!) from letters written to Edith by… [Read More]

Work in Progress #11: Umbrella Research

There’s another aspect to research that I never realize the importance of until I stop doing it.  I call it “Umbrella Research” because it covers everything I write from Esther Morris taking a stagecoach out to Wyoming in 1869 to Edith Wharton living in her two elegant homes in France just after World War I. … [Read More]

Work in Progress #10: Writing and Living

I finished chapter 6 at a week-long writer’s retreat where I was happily holed up in a cabin in Pennsylvania and had no distractions. There were no “real life” things to do like dishes and laundry and I was surrounded by thirteen other people, busily writing in their own cabins, which spurred me on. The… [Read More]

Work in Progress #9: Here to There

I finally finished my narrative outline for chapter 6 last week and sprinted through the actual writing of it. A confession: I cheated a bit! There were supposed to be two major “points of focus,” two major events, that were to form the basis for the chapter. When I actually did the writing, the first… [Read More]