Sufficiently frustrated by my lack of an angle for Tennessee, I jettisoned all my research materials over the past couple of days. Back to the libraries went six books, a CD boxed set, and a DVD, but only after a last-ditch effort early this morning, in which I re-watched the DVD while skimming two of the books. Other than a minor, pre-coffee case of information overload, nothing came of it.

Nothing yet, anyway. As I said last week, I learned a lot of interesting stuff, and as I mull it — subconsciously or otherwise — who knows what I might stitch together? Maybe I can put my new knowledge to use in some fiction project down the road. Or maybe the whole exercise will prove to be a dead end. It wouldn’t be the first time.

But when I left the library after my lunch hour today, I felt a lot lighter than when I went in. It wasn’t just that I was no longer burdened by the materials I’d unloaded (which also included, unrelated to this nonfiction project, at least a half-dozen picture books and a jumbo graphic novel). While I was there, I began writing longhand the first few hundred words in the first draft of my sample chapter for E.F.

I’d begun thinking that having two proposals (or would-be proposals) in the works at one time was one too many, and I’m not entirely sure I was wrong. Lately, I’d been feeling a little overwhelmed, burned out, fed up with facts and how to find them. But if Tennessee was going to end up thwarting me, at least for now, I sure am glad I’ve got a more promising project to balance things out.