Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mental Health

When I wrote about Joan of Arc I read three different translations of her trial transcripts in order to discern her actual voice. I also studied what kind of shoes people wore back then, how they planted flowers and what distinguished their homes from the houses of other eras.

When I wrote about the start of the American Revolution I studied the kinds of silverware people used in the colonies. I also studied how to load a musket, how to kill someone with a 18th century bayonet and how to make red bea balm taste like tea. 

When I wrote about the Battle of Hastings I studied how the Saxons said The Lord's Prayer, what sort of 
crops they grew, and how they buried their dead. I also studied what kind of haircuts Norman men generally had, as well as the importance of leading an army on horseback as opposed to on foot. 

Long story short: I like to do deep research when I'm working on a project. 

Thing is, though, I'm wondering lately if I'm going too far with my writing. Recently I've been studying a subject so obscure I've had to have the web pages I've been doing research from translated into English. What's more, I've been downloading things like the image of a hundred year old German postcard in order to get the proper perspective of the time and place I'm writing about. I want everything just right, after all.

Yet wanting everything just right, pushing yourself to the limit over and over again, isn't always good for you. It exhausts you, drains you and it takes away from other important aspects of life. God gives each of us unique abilities, but He also gives us the power to say enough is enough when necessary. 

In the end we creative types, if we have the least bit of passion, have to protect our mental health. Van Gogh cut off his ear. I like both my ears where they are. The whole tortured artist thing is glamorous until you're living it. Then it sucks. Besides, it ultimately takes away from time that could be spent in the act of creativity. 

Better to be productive, I say, than on a psychiatric couch.  

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