Have you ever been tubing down a river?
Imagine yourself nestled in the inner tube, feeling the balance of hot sun kissing your shoulders and cold water freezing your rear-end...you lean back and watch a few clouds drift by in the bluest-blue sky above you....
You are doing nothing (except perhaps sipping on a cold drink)...just enjoying the ride; the river does all the work, gently carrying you downstream past trees...cliffs...green lawns...campgrounds...
Then you come to some rapids...you have to paddle a bit to avoid slamming your shins or bottom into a rock, but otherwise you just hang on and enjoy the ride...you're moving fast now and it's exhilarating!
But then you hit a dead spot. You're stuck. If you move at all, it's sideways toward the bank or even backwards, back where you've been. You hold your drink with your knees and start paddling hard...your shoulder muscles start aching and that tender skin of your underarms is stinging from rubbing against the rubber tube...but if you're lucky and you work hard enough, your tube slips back into that forward-moving current once again. Ah, you can relax for a bit.
Until the next eddy captures your tube.
That's what writing this book based on my great-great grandfather's memoir is like for me; there are times I'm moving fast...in some parts he's given me a lot of details and it's easy to put myself in his shoes, imagine how it was, only needing to add a touch here or there. The framework is there, at least. I pretty much just lean back and enjoy the ride of my imagination.
But sometimes...like right now...I get caught in an eddy. Right now it's a "Civil War battles" eddy - he skims right over his enlistment, his training and, I think, a few battles before mentioning the one where he gets wounded.
I need more framework! Details! How long did your training last? What did you eat? Where was your first battle? Were you traveling by foot? Horse? Wagons? What kind of gun did you shoot? Did you miss your parents?
Details require research. And research to me...okay, nevermind that "eddy" analogy...research to me is quicksand...I become mired in details, descriptions, stories and other characters...I lose track of time, forget what it is I'm even searching for! I am a history and research maniac! (I just wish I could remember half of what I read!)
So I'm forced into self-discipline...I'm having to pull myself back and stay focused on specific quests - not allow myself to get sidetracked by the scenery - because as fun as it is, as much as I love research, I want to move on!
I'm getting better, slowly but surely. Those paddling muscles are getting stronger. But I sure hope the next few chapters are just swift downstream currents. I'm ready to lean back and enjoy the ride for awhile.