Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle or Why I'm Afraid of My Book

"...the Uncertainty Principle says something very simple: the act of measuring something changes the result of that measurement. Heisenberg showed that simultaneously determining both the position of an electron and the speed at which it is moving is impossible. If you can measure its speed accurately, that measurement will itself make its location wildly uncertain. And vice versa."

[Note: I am currently working on a book that examines how women make decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Regardless of the ultimate choice or the reasons for their dilemma, I'm interested in the cultural, religious, familial, medical, and societal influences that go into the process of making such a difficult decision in a short period of time]

Last week I avoided my book. I'd become stuck, not with the writing, but with where to go from here. I had completed the interviews but I'm not ready to write them yet - I have to let them sit together in my head. I need the stories and feelings to soak down into the pores of my brain so that I can honor them by feeling them wick down through my fingertips onto the keyboard. That leaves the facts. The statistics. The research.

I procrastinated last week, justifying it by telling myself I needed an agent or an editor to help me decide how much hard data to include. I don't want to taint the individual stories with black and white, numbers and percentages, but I have to provide some background. I put it off because I don't know how to get an editor. Don't know if I want an agent. Don't know who I can trust with this book that has been my passion for over a decade. I can't share this with just anyone.

Two days ago I jumped in to the research anyway, reasoning that I'd fill my head with the information and sort it out as it felt right. The process gave me energy, as it has from the beginning. I'm so frightened that I won't tell the stories right, that I won't be able to accurately convey the raw honesty entrusted to me by these courageous women I interviewed. The only balm is the actual work. I just have to get messy and see what happens.

The problem with statistics and measurements is that as soon as they are touched by human hands and hearts and agendas, they are skewed. I want so much to not have an agenda, some preconcieved notion that all readers must embrace by the time they reach the last page. My hope is that these stories will illuminate the struggle, the fear, the pain, and the joy of having the freedom to make a difficult choice for one's self regardless of the decision. I am excited about this book, but afraid that I can't do it justice. So for now, I'll just keep working and try to trust that the fire burning inside of me will point the way.


Eileen said...

I KNOW you will do justice to this book. You are such a beautiful writer and have such important stories to tell. Trust yourself and that let that burning fire inside you lead you and you will be well on your way. Remember what was taught, or what I just leaned this weekend, when I have doubts, that is when I should keep writing even more, just keep going. Your posts are so powerful, compelling and insightful...go with what your heart will all work itself out, I just know it. Sending lots of love and creative thoughts your way. XOXO

Deb said...

I love being able to read your process. Thank you for sharing that. I have absolutely no doubt of your ability to create the book that you want. You are skilled and present and in touch with your heart and soul. I'll be one of the first in line to get your book.


Scott from Oregon said...

In Japan, the girls who have had aortions carry around a little doll and pray to it and apologize to it for a year afterward. I thought you might find that tidbit interesting, if not sad...

Dean Moyer said...

Hi Kario,

I can totally relate. It takes me forever to write anything. I obsess over every word... every phrase.

Did I get it right? Will people understand what I'm trying to convey? Will they like it? Will they laugh at my jokes?

I don't know if all writers are perfectionists ... or if it's just because we invest so much of ourselves in our writing that we want people to see it in a positive light. It is, after all, us.

We're putting a piece of ourselves on public display and saying, "Here, what do you think?"

I've recently started blogging... and I thought at first that it would give me a chance to loosen up and be more informal... but so far I still obsess over every post. (That's why I only manage to publish about 1 a week if I'm lucky.)

I'm even obsessing over this simple greeting. (Please someone, just shoot me!)

Anyway, I found your blog on Nurse Ratched's blogroll. ( She's also a writer and someone you might enjoy.

I'm going to add you to my blogroll. I hope you don't mind the heading I'm putting you under. I will probably move it later to a section dedicated just to fellow writers.

Hang in there,
- Dean

Jerri said...

Dear Kari. Please trust yourself, especially with this work. Trust the fire. Trust your heart.

You are a fine writer and a wise, loving woman. Remember: baby steps work. Perfectionism kills.

much love.

Jenny Rough said...

Your book sounds fascinating. As you say, it will all sort out in the end. :-)

Miss Devylish said...

Whatever you do shows you've put your heart and soul into it honey. Plus, well.. you're sorta smart. You will find a way to work everything in so it doesn't mar your stories, I'm sure.. and if you get blocked.. take a breather. I know it's going to be great no matter how quickly you get it done..

Kim said...

I think you are approaching this exactly the right way: roll your sleeves up and get messy, and don't worry about the finished product right now. Let it bloom organically from the work, the research, the stories. I'm a big fan of focusing on the few puzzle pieces in front of you, then the next few, then the next: the big picture will reveal itself in time.

And your deep desire to honor these stories takes you much more than halfway there.

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