Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Researching to write, writing to research?

I like collecting nuggets of information, like a particularly greedy squirrel. History, pop culture, literature, sociology, archaeology, art history, music, whatever.

So, when I started writing fiction about five years ago, it was naturally a great excuse to do research and learn new things. What usually happens is this: I'll write the first chapter or so of a story, and then I'll realize I don't know what the hell I’m talking about. So, hooray, I get to go research!

I've got a couple of decent university libraries nearby (I'm too lazy to go up to Stanford and they're too snooty to let me into their stacks, anyway) so off I go. It's a big production, and I generally spend all day farting around in the stacks. Sadly, the MLK library (San Jose/SJSU joint production) is too new to be musty, but on a Saturday morning there's no one around, so I get the upper floors practically to myself, as well as the huge floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on downtown SJ. It's just a great excuse to pretend I'm in college again, take copious notes, learn new things, and read, read, read.

Over the next few weeks I'll bookmark about a bajillion sites related to my topic and start plowing through those. Thank heavens for – I can finally organize my bookmarks and find them. I try to get the bulk of my research done ahead of time, but new stuff always crops up that I need to learn about, and the challenge there is not getting sidetracked. I've talked with Cas and Heather about this before – it's far too easy to "just check a fact" while I'm in the middle of writing, and find 15 minutes of precious writing time have evaporated.

So. What about you? Are you addicted to research? Is it a good procrastination tool?

soncy: lucky and thriving

Myths, symbols, and folklore
oriole "In China it is a bird symbolic of spring, marriage, and joy."

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