Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sucked Away by Research

I love research. If I had to live my life over, I might have considered some form of investigative exploration as a career. I love to scan the Internet or sit down with a good book on a topic about which I am writing and glean interesting facts to put into my novels.

Yesterday I attended an eleven hour lecture on a Book of Mormon topic I’m currently pursuing in one of my works in progress. Never mind eating (they didn’t break for dinner), never mind housework, never mind preparing my Primary lesson, and never mind WRITING, I was hooked and couldn’t leave the mini-conference until I helped put away the last chair.

The grueling hours of sitting with backside to seat, eyes fixed and dilated, was well worth my time. I came away with two new books, validated the research I’ve already done, and realized more than ever the importance of my novel’s subject matter. Even viewing the very artifacts I write about in my novel still has my head buzzing a day later.

Now some of you might think eleven hours is overkill. They did repeat one of the afternoon topics in the evening (I HAD TO hear the information again). But it was an event that filled my well to overflowing—invigorated my mind so now all I want to do is get my thoughts down on paper. What more can a writer want than the desire to write.

All writers understand there is a time when we have to put the research aside and put fingers to the keyboard. I agree 100%, well, maybe 98%. The amount of research, and the consideration of what we gain from it, is dependent on the type of writing we do and our purpose within that market. If your book explores the Nicene Creed and Egyptian Coptic Christians who came to this country before Christ, your research time will obviously require more attention than if you were writing about your dog, Charlie.

There will come a time when I collect sufficient information about the Michigan relics and the Hopewell culture of the Great Lakes area that I can stop attending eleven hour lectures. However, I won’t stop willingly; I can already envision myself holding on to the door frame by my fingertips as obligation sucks my feet off the ground and pulls me toward home. But right now, lengthy lectures and hours of studying my notes will help me write the novel my heart yearns to create. I’m not going to lash myself into submission or feel guilty for taking the time away from the essential part of my craft. Research, for my project, is essential. And, if you need the extra book time for your projects, I say, “Go for it! Get carried away! You’ll feel better when you relieve your suffering.”

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