I doubt Robin Sharma was talking about research when she penned that.
Researching books. Anne Lamott’s advice is to actually speak with other human beings. She used the word “phone,” at which point I began to skim, to mentally prepare my grocery list. I wasn’t taking her advice, not at all. Like most writers, I am an introvert. I used to feel bad about that, as if it meant I didn’t like people. I DO like people, just, in small doses and preferably from far distances. And especially when we’re saying goodbye. As I’m pulling away, I smile and say how lovely a time it was. And I mean it.
Email is best. Texting…meh. A phone call: not happening.
It was out of absolute necessity that I found myself having the research phonecall Anne Lamott said I ought to have.
I wrote a short story and submitted it to Sinister Smile Press. Doesn’t that name just scream Kelly? Have you seen my mask? Well, the story got rejected before I could publish this post. Haha. Haha. *wipes eyes* HAHA. Nah…I’m over it. Here’s a quote I read today: The hardest part of artmaking is living your life in such a way that your work gets done, over and over. – Art & Fear
One part of living my life so the work gets done is to make lists and little triangles, and when I do the task, I color it in. The story I wrote for SP included selections of a poem. In order to use the work, I had to get permission. This was a triangle I DID NOT WANT TO DO. I emailed the logging museum. No response. Finally, desperately, crankily and with a black heart toward people who don’t embrace technology and/or appreciate the distance it allows me to keep, I called the number. An honest-to-god answering machine clicked on. Just before the beep, a woman picked up. Her husband was the curator of the museum, she told me. He’d passed away. She hoped someone would take over as curator, but she’d open it for me if I wanted to visit. Her home was next door. She had extra rooms. I could bring the family. Most of the conversation was recorded on her answering tape. I heard the beep when it ran too long. Me, talking till an answering machine runs out of room. But she gave me permission to use the poem that, as far as she knew, was still hanging in the museum on a yellow piece of paper.
I felt like a bonafide journalist. And I also wanted to somehow cross the distance and hug this sweet woman who was stuck in 1950’s hospitality. Even as I type this, I wish good upon her. I hope she’s got lots of children who come to visit and use her spare rooms, and grandchildren. I hope they eat cookies and drink tea together. I hope she plays bridge with other widows or bingo at church. With COVID though, I hope she at least has masked conversations with people who care about her, that she’s not too lonely.
Shake it off, Kelly.
Another place research has taken me is into hypnosis. I found this little gem on youtube. What I most like about it is the end: I am enough. I’m still seeing myself holding that piece of paper. If you go for it, let me know in the comments. If I get any takers, I’ll share how it went for me.
PS – I resubmitted my story to another market, first thing this morning. If you write short stories, I recommend using The Submission Grinder. It keeps track of all your submissions, and when you log a rejection, there’s a handy link that says: find new market. You click it and are given a list of other possibilities. The Submission Grinder makes it easier for the work to get done, over and over.