When I was trying to wrap my brain around an excellent research question, I finally figured out what made it so difficult. I filtered my search through too many audiences.
Is this a good research question? What will Dr. Tillander think? How will I sell these ideas to adults without boring them to death? Where does the scholarship come down on this? (And why are all the articles I’m finding FROM THE 1980’s?! Is my topic irrelevant now?) Will I be able to explain this to my grandmother? Is it narrow enough for me to grasp? Is it complex enough to keep me engaged? Do I have more than a snowball’s chance in hell of getting other people to be as passionate about this topic as I’m going to have to be to get through the rest of grad school?
Now that I’m certain my research is for them, I’m having a much easier time putting my thoughts into words. I will, of course, have to write everything in APA and format it properly so that other very official grown ups will listen to me, but this is the heart and intent of my current research. It’s best form is a letter to the artists and students that I love.
When easy access to information is unaccompanied by lust for discovery, it weakens our creative souls. Should you get curious about how hummingbirds hatch, you may Google it, watch a high resolution video, and let your wonder die on Youtube in six and a half minutes. I wonder how long those sounds and images would stay with you. On the contrary, I wonder if you could ever forget standing over a nest, holding your breath, and actually watching tiny hummingbirds break out of their tiny shells. Basking in the soft glow of the Internet’s glory will rarely surprise and delight you to the same degree as boldly investigating our world.
These investigations, these investments, need not be laborious. Through research, I hope to learn how to help you pick up the scent of ideas that set you on fire and compel you to hunt them down, to flesh them out. For you I wish joy, curiosity, obsession, whimsy, boldness, and wonder.
As my fellow artists, I hope that you will learn our language, master our skills, and understand our history. But my greatest hope is that you will discover how to show us the world through your eyes.
There is so much adventuring to do, so much to create, and it is very important that you find and offer the world your distinct view. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.