Hittin’ the Wall and Blowin’ in the Wind

I think I’ve hit the Writer’s Wall.

After feverously completing working drafts for “The Pursuit of Happiness” and “Liberty”,  I am now stuck on “Life.”

I sat down this morning with only the concept of the first and last scenes and no idea how I would get from the beginning to the end.  I decided to do some research.  Since the story is set in the early 1960s at Indiana University, I went to the website for their archives.  There was a lot on the late sixties protests, but I couldn’t find anything posted on the early 6os .

I called an archivist and she helpfully recommended a resource I can access here at IUPU-Columbus.  She also said there were some early collections of interviews with alums at the library (in Bloomington) she would help me sort through if given a few days notice.

Next, I downloaded the lyrics to a few popular songs of the era I may use in the story.

Finally, I started composing the first scene.  It was like pulling teeth.  I was thoroughly uninspired.  I managed to squeeze out about 1,000 words, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had to re-write over half of them.

Now is when I face the true test for the writer – how to keep going when the words don’t flow.

My strategy will be to thoroughly immerse myself in research.  For next few weeks, I will live, eat, sleep, and breathe the early 60s.  I will travel to Bloomington and talk to older residents who lived through it.  I will search through yearbooks, oral histories, maybe even learn how to use microfiche. I’ll make note after note before sitting down in my recliner to crank out the story sketch.

I would be interested in hearing from any of you who have ties to the early 60s or, even better, IU in the early 60s.  Anything you might recommend I look at or listen to, anybody you know I might contact for an interview – whatever you think might be helpful to get this story launched, I would love to hear from you.

For now, I’ll leave you with a “blast from the past” as I begin the journey.   Here’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” written by Bob Dylan in 1962 and performed here in 1966 by Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Peter Paul and Mary by Jacob Whittaker

(Peter Paul and Mary from Jacob Whittaker, some rights reserved)

6 thoughts on “Hittin’ the Wall and Blowin’ in the Wind

  1. This is a fiction trilogy, yes? It sounds like you are gathering all the factual info you need, but perhaps it is the story itself that is stuck? If you are interested, I wrote a piece about writer’s block that may or may not be helpful. I confess, I know nothing about the 60’s, as I was born in 1980, so I cannot be of help to your research. But I do encourage you to keep moving forward (as you are) and not let “the block” stop you. There’s a reason why you need to write the story… keep your focus on that.

    Here’s the link to the writer’s block article: http://leannesype.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/why-why-why/

    Good luck, Tony!

  2. I found myself nodding my head as I read this. Yup…know the feeling. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back in time to do research for our MSs. Unfortunately, time travel devices have not yet been invented (than goodness, for one of my characters would cause havoc if they had 🙂 )
    I lived through the sixties, though here in Australia. My three years of junior high were in ’61-’63 and “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” to quote someone who wrote a book once I think.

    I wish you well in your research, it can be fun and also very frustrating – especially when you write to an organisation for help and they don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge your letter. I have found though that most people are only too willing to help.

    Keep going Tony, you’ve written two, the third will come. Praying that your writer’s block is soon demolished.

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