i must admit that i’ve felt a little overwhelmed lately with information. i’m of the card catalog era (which i talk about here). the librarian in me wants to know it all. it is so difficult for me not to find my way to the end of the internet before i’ve actually started my day. i wanted a way to be more purposeful about the information i was acquiring, but also wanted to leave room for accidental discoveries. i wanted a syllabus. something to guide me through the sea of information as andrea barrett calls it.
i toyed around with elaborate book lists, checklists and forms to track what i wanted to learn. none of my systems stuck. i felt like the work was trying to tell me something. instead of composing the perfect list, i decided to just listen to the work. i made long rambling lists with questions like “what is missing?” “what does character x want?” across the top of the page. i read through the manuscript and made notes and tried to make connections. i drew visual maps of the plot with made up symbols. i stared out of the coffee shop window.i made a mess.
i started to surrender to random urges–to wander the aisles of a different library branch than normal. to pull a long-forgotten book off my shelf. i stopped in the middle of a text if another one called to me. i found myself murmuring “ah ha” and scribbling furiously. my syllabus was making itself. and all i had to do was listen.