I love research, whether it be the origin of a phrase, the date of a birth, or the history of a person or event. I’m a dedicated fact-checker, a punctilious speller, meticulous in my efforts to state things correctly. I love learning causes and explanations and silly little facts, and I find digging into the why’s and where’s to be an intriguing challenge. while my greatest joy in writing is to be in that place of “flow” where the words come flying through my fingers with very little conscious participation, I find the researching aspect of writing to be a challenge that when answered brings me incredible satisfaction.
another form of writing research is possibly even better, though . . . and that would be the times I research the writing styles of other authors.
stephen king has been credited with the following words of wisdom: If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:read a lot and write a lot.
darn, I have to read. a lot. what drudgery.
I pretend it’s work, while I’m singing inside.
these past few days I’ve been rereading a book I read nine years ago, a book I love, the time traveler’s wife (if you haven’t already, please read this book. skip the movie: read this fabulous book). it’s research, you see, as my latest project has a vague connection to issues written about by ms. niffenegger. I snuggle into my corner of the couch, a chenille throw draped around my knees and toes, and dig into my research. serious countenance aside, I am inwardly grinning and happy as a clam.
to be honest, though, I often end up reading works I don’t care quite so much for in attempts to be “aware” and on top of the literary scene. (no, haven’t tried fifty shades of anything, yet.) I have forced myself through pulitzer prize winning books, and books on top of “everyone’s” must-read lists, classics, and even those suggested by friends, all in efforts to broaden my experiences and taste. to increase my exposure, to stay current. I am too kind to make a list of Books I Couldn’t Finish, or even Books I Wanted To Stop Reading But Didn’t Because They Won Prizes. but I will share those titles in close company, and shake my head in amazement that I am so uneducated? dense? narrow? as to think little of them.
but fortunately, most of my reading-research involves books I actually enjoy reading. from each book, story, or essay I read I pick up ideas. phrasing, methods, new words, craft . . . there is always something for a writer to learn from another written work.
so please excuse the brevity, but I must return to ms. niffenegger’s book because it seems that I still have work to do.