It has become my personal writing process to require a full day of “circling” when I am wrestling with a writing challenge. Last Friday was my circling day.
Circling, in this case, refers to the practice of my dog, Trixie, in positioning herself on her bed, to get herself comfortable and in just the right position to settle in for a while. She will purposefully tip-paw onto her squishy Orvis dog bed and begin circling it, turning and twisting her lean doggie body to complete a series of spins until she decides she is in just the right spot to plop down and snuggle into the cushions.
It usually takes her about 10 seconds or so, but she somehow knows when it’s time to stop circling. Like some unhearable music that is playing in a musical chairs for dogs, Trixie stops and takes a seat abruptly. Once she does, she is settled in for the night.
I had my circling day on Friday. I spent an entire day digging back into my most recent draft of my dissertation introduction and first chapter. I backpedaled to re-read the Proposal I presented more than a year ago, to return to the original thoughts I had on my project. I glanced over the completed dissertations of my Salve Regina classmates and reviewed Creswell’s Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design.
That’s when it hit me. All the confidence I had in breezing through the writing won’t get me where I need to go next. I may need to do the one thing I had cut out of my process. I may need to consider adding an interview component to my work.
Normally, I’d be fine with this, since interviewing is one of the things I do best. Nearly 30 years as a communications professional, with career experience as a reporter and editor, I don’t shy away from interviews. However, in this case, interviews mean one thing: a longer road to finishing.
They also mean the writer’s block I have been struggling with – if indeed, I can blame this long delay (even partially) on writer’s block – is beatable. Interviews could just give me the information I need to crystallize what I am trying to unearth. Much as I hate to add more work to the mountain of work I already have ahead, I think I have made a critical discovery. I need absolute clarity on what I am pursuing. My elevator speech. My 30-second explanation of the problem or question about all this online grief memoir-like content that intrigues me so. I’m not there yet but the clouds are clearing. I need to finish circling. It’s time to settle in.