Writing and research go hand in hand. The more I'm intrigued by something, the more I want to understand it. And sometimes my way of understanding is to write a story about it. Which leads me back into research. Again and again.
Initial research often leads to a first draft. But the draft contains new concepts, new "facts" that require research. Every revision usually introduces yet another aspect to research.
I also feel that the work itself -- the act of writing -- is research. Meaning emerges from fiction. That is the goal of my writing. To bring meaning and expression to the human condition through the parameters of a story. I'm certainly not the first writer to feel this way. The University of Amsterdam offers an MA program on Artistic Research, and there's an international Society for Artistic Research.
Now there's also a journal devoted to artistic research: Parse. "The name PARSE has been adopted as indicative of a movement back and forth between analysis and creation, between meaning making and the analytics of meaning, between construction and re-construction."
I teeter between the construction and re-construction, the layering of meaning, the search for understanding. At what point is the story finished -- when I have completed my research or when the meaning is clear for the reader?
Is it any wonder it can take years to craft a story? As I discover new pieces, the story grows and the meaning shifts, sometimes ever so slightly. Is the work of art a representation of how things are or how things ought to be? Or is it really only my understanding of how they appear to be?
This is a crucial preoccupation in the book I'm currently writing. On a sub-conscious level the characters struggle with how to synthesize what is, what we want there to be and what we make apparent to others. No story is exhaustive, perhaps especially the ones we tell ourselves, in part because we are limited in what we can perceive and understand. This has impacts on our daily lives, and it is these repercussions that I explore in the series of linked stories.
I'm grateful to have two weeks to work on the book and explore these questions. As I begin my working vacationI look forward to many hours of research and discovery.