People of the Book

I am reading The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I’m so impressed with the knowledge/research she must have done to pull off such a work, boning up on history of the time period (mid 1990s where the present action occurs, including the war in Sarajevo, Bosnia for starters). Then, Grooks needed to dig deeply into the history of Islam and Judaism and learn bunches about how to restore and study old manuscripts. How many of us who write want to take that kind of time for research? Brooks had worked as a journalist in Sarajevo during the war, I understand, so she had very hands-on experience also to tap into.
But probably it isn’t a matter of “willing” or “wanting” to devote the time. Most of us who juggle work in addition to our writing face a real dilemma. We can’t give up our day jobs to write full time, so we don’t have the full time opportunity to research and immerse ourselves into the setting, history, culture, etc. of the subject matter. We can’t pay our bills without our day jobs, so we can’t find the time for the substantive work exhibited in Brooks’ book.
Still I worry that writers don’t think about their goals as writers. They don’t ask just what it is that they want to accomplish—and that doesn’t guarantee accomplishing it, of course. Life is so demanding for most people that it’s a luxury to have time to dedicate to writing. But probably many of us can find more writing time, if we tried. We can make that appointment to sit in the computer chair if we absolutely pause, look at our calendars, and schedule writing time.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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