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IWSG VI: When Research Turns Scary, How Do You Sleep?

IMG_4156 [I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

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I sat at my kitchen table just the other night, flipping through a couple of different research books I’d ordered from the library.

* Note the photo to the side, Exhibit A: my kitchen table, my I-Pad, my son’s dinosaur pen, and my favorite purple notebook. The stack of books you see in the picture is one of two stacks.

I had just read through an entire introduction on benevolent spirits and first hand accounts from a demonologist when my heart sped up. I glanced from wall to wall, back over my shoulder, listening for any unusual sounds in my house.

Is it real? I wondered.

Part of being a writer for me, is the ability to feel and see things as if I’d actually been through them. My body certainly believed whatever I was reading was very real in the moment. And when my cat turned the corner in the kitchen, just a moving shadow in the corner of my eye, well, he scared the holy Moses out of me.

Research can be a wonderful thing. In science, it gives you the what’s been done, the next questions, basic facts and formulas to use as a foundation. In writing, I follow the same steps to bridge the histories with whatever world is stirring in my own mind.

Then the fears kick in.

I admit, I was the kid with my head in my own mother’s lap at the movie theater after I’d begged to see Aliens 2 with her and my brother. “No mom! I’m not too little! I’ll watch the whole movie, I swear!”

Wrong.

I, again, was the little girl too scared to walk across the floor in the basement, seeing imaginary JAWS coming out from under the couch hungry to eat me. So I jumped from couch to couch to the stairs if I ever had to go down the basement for who knows how many months.

Research is critical, and I thought I grew up. I thought I could wear an investigative hat this time.

So I face a dilemma. Finish the research, or manage my heart rate so I can sleep. Last week, I think I went three or four days wondering what was really hiding in the shadows late at night. Every groan in the house, every little shifty shape on the walls or the carpet set my imagination into a full on sprint.

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Exhibit B: The shadow stalking cat, Mr. Maverick.

Sigh. I have to finish this book though. After a week of rest from my research I am finally sleeping again. But I have to go back.

Question: Ever been there? I’d love to hear how you manage to sleep and research scary things.

Thank you 🙂

And a big thank you to this month’s hosts:

Lauren Hennessy
Lisa Buie-Collard
Lidy Wilks
Christine Rains
Mary Aalgaard