#7: There are always delicious days. There are not delicious weeks.

"There are always delicious days. There are not delicious weeks. The business inevitably involves some amount of drudgery, among which microfilmed seventeenth-century French diplomatic dispatches rank high.

But yes, archival euphoria comes fairly easily to me. I love not knowing what I'm going to encounter on a given day, every once in a while extracting the nugget that clarifies your thinking or that - by some kind of alchemy - organizes the material. It's like weeks in the optician's chair, adjusting your focus with every page."

Author Stacy Schiff describes her archival research process.

 

Every once in a while, just when I fear I've reached the least bit sane, I encounter a reminder that I'm profoundly human.

In that while, I realize that, really, my problem in life is that I'm one of those authors who speaks literature. (It's exactly why I create.)  

This last while, I saw, in my brain, Stacy Schiff smile the same awkward smile I smile as she spoke to Ruth Franklin, her interviewer and writer for The Paris Review: a quarterly literary publication.

Seriously: reread Schiff's response. Paraphrased, Franklin's question was: "Is it true you enjoy the research process?"

"There are always delicious days. There are not delicious weeks. The business inevitably involves some amount of drudgery, among which microfilmed seventeenth-century French diplomatic dispatches rank high. But yes, archival euphoria comes fairly easily to me. I love not knowing what I'm going to encounter on a given day, every once in a while extracting the nugget that clarifies your thinking or that - by some kind of alchemy - organizes the material. It's like weeks in the optician's chair, adjusting your focus with every page."

Who else replies to a one-sentence question with a one-paragraph answer? Well, I do.

My communication style is poetic, which is both beautiful and obnoxious for every day storytelling. But it is entirely appropriate and underrated (of course, when respectful to its context).

Poetic brain and its artistic communications, however, often experience my personal embarrassment and rejection, because I feel ostracized, irritated, very sad and sometimes distressed when others do not understand my communications. In those experiences, I am not grieving my sicknesses themselves. It's not the literal cognitive impairment symptoms that I find embarrassing. It's the "you're one of those" judgments I notice, how I internalize the judgement, then poor respect I show myself in response.

Perhaps the obnoxious piece about my speaking, and greater mental health, is it's "normal" enough to need and appreciate when creativity seems convenient, but not "normal" enough for what is perceived as efficient, practical and comfortable.

Have no hope for a changed communication style.

If my sentence structure, word choice, metaphorical parallels or otherwise madness that is heaven sent finds you frustrated, this is your opportune space to develop psychological flexibility. 

To the Stacy Schiffs of the world: There is another out here who speaks in sentences just as convoluted as yours.

That is good for many a things.

 

 

Photography © natalie rose eddings

Interview :  Franklin, Ruth. "Stacy Schiff, The Art of Biography No. 6." The Paris Review, Winter 2017, pp. 20-44.