First things first.
At the moment posting a link to a site with the heading “Lone Star College – Kingwood” tops my list. This is the place — http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade00.html — to find American cultural history broken down by decades from 1900 through 2000. The link will take you to 1900-1909; a menu bar across the page offers the subsequent decades. A couple cool things about this site: the font is easy to read; there are small blocks of statistical info like population, life expectancy, wages, unemployment, cars on the road, miles of pavement in existence, days necessary to cross the continent, etc. And there are additional links provided to other sites such as the Library of Congress and interesting connections to art, architecture and design pertinent to the era.
Sites like these are the reason I love research. A mention of one thing ‘here’ sets me off to learn more about that one thing ‘there,’ and ‘there’ I stumble upon the mention of another thing that sets me off to learn more, and from yet another ‘there’ the interests hopscotch or leapfrog way-way beyond any information I will possibly use in the project at hand.
Caution, however, is advised. When many things of interest clutter my mind, when I want to somehow include a mention of as many of these interests as possible — the work stumbles under the weight. Choices! Choices? I fear I’ve made some wrong ones while writing The True Life Adventures of Irene in White Tights, eventually spending more time on the Winton automobile than on Irene’s athleticism or the plight of women athletes, in particular swimmers and divers, during the first thirty years of the twentieth century. Then again, the current draft is only number 5; changes may yet be made; the balance of information in the current draft may be on the button; or not.
Waiting — is difficult. And decisions in regard to further edits to the current draft are difficult. Self doubt enters. An agent has draft 5 in hand. I should wait. I should make improvements. I should wait.
The advice from Coach Vannucci [my editing advisor with the Beat the Book gang] is: Start the next novel. Busy your mind. Put this one away for the present. Drink a bit of the bubbly. Relax. Enjoy. Create.
Yeah, Vannucci. Right.