I’ve spent most of my “writing” time lately on research for a couple of nonfiction projects for which I hope to start shopping around proposals this spring. These would both be different from anything I’ve done so far — targeted to teen readers and centering not on an individual person or people but on historical concepts or trends.

And so far, anyway, they’re very different from each other, not just in subject matter — one’s political, one’s cultural — but in how clearly I can see the shape I think these books would take.

The political one, E.F., is coming along nicely. I know the material is there, in spades, and I know how it ought to be framed. I’ve figured out the lens through which the story should be told, and now I just need to conduct a few interviews that will, I hope, give me what I need in order to write a sample first chapter for the proposal.

The cultural one, which I’ll call Tennessee… well, I sure am learning a lot. And it’s fascinating stuff, none of which I was more than vaguely familiar with prior to digging in. But I haven’t a clue what to do with what I’m learning, how it can be made relevant to modern young readers, or where to focus. There’s no physical action and I haven’t come across any intriguing personalities, both of which would be nice to have for both reader and writer.

I’m going with the assumption that I just haven’t dug deep enough into Tennessee yet, haven’t looked at the subject from enough perspectives. So, I’ll keep at it. Besides, this being new territory in so many ways — the subject matter, the audience I’d be writing for, shopping a proposal instead of a full manuscript — I’m not sure I’d know when to stop.