The Rapture of Research

6 Jul

Sometimes research is dull and boring.  Mostly it isn’t.  Occasionally the research distracts me from the actual story-writing – a fascinating indulgence amid the mass of hard work that goes into writing a novel.

Serendipity plays a huge part.  I stumbled across the wolf spider, the perfect addition to a scene, while perusing Iberia Nature’s website.  Not a big deal – you’re bound to stumble across something helpful, when you’re deliberately searching for helpful things. 

But sometimes it feels like something is guiding my hand.  I opened my DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Argentina, scouting out scene settings for a new novel, to find the image of hands on walls, prehistoric cave paintings just like in Altamira.  I shivered, remembering the cave scene from the previous novel.  Co-incidence?  Maybe.  Now both stories have a common thread, an unexpected connection across continents.

Then I had a conversation with a friend about researching mountaineering.  It went something like this:  “Do you remember the name of that book about that guy who climbed Everest, like from a decade ago?”  “Oh yah,” she said.  “I think I have that book at home.”  That’s the wonder of friends.  A conversation can consist of a few random floating thoughts.  She knows exactly what I wanted for research material, and why.

A few days later she presented me with Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.  I thought it was going to be dry, boring, something to slog through to glean a few facts.  I was wrong.

 I never thought Krakauer would whack me across the skull with the force of a baseball bat in full swing.  Weeks later, the story still resonates in my mind – the larger, more important message than the actions themselves.  The fragile conquest of hopes and dreams, the price paid for crazy obsessions.  Several times I had to put the book aside, caught up in an epiphany.  Eiger Dreams did the same thing, saving the best part for the very last page.

 That’s the beauty and pain contained inside a book – encountering the unexpected epiphany.  That’s why I read, why I write.  That’s the rapture of research.

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9 Responses to “The Rapture of Research”

  1. CDNWMN July 6, 2011 at 12:49 PM #

    Congrats on joining blogworld! lol! Excellent post, the last line was just, so very you. I love it. 🙂

  2. Fiona July 6, 2011 at 3:33 PM #

    Love it! Can’t wait to read more.

  3. Angela Addams July 6, 2011 at 3:47 PM #

    I like researching too – sometimes I get way too caught up in it and put off the writing part for too long – lol

    Congrats on joining the blog world!

  4. Danielle La Paglia July 6, 2011 at 7:29 PM #

    Fantastic first post, Dianne! Welcome to the blogging world. That’s the joy of writing and reading for me, too. I love getting lost in another place. So far, I’ve enjoyed all the research I’ve needed to do for my novels. It opens up new possibilites for the story and makes them more real to me.

  5. Gareth July 8, 2011 at 7:38 AM #

    Hail and welcome, great to see a new blogger. A wonderfully thought out post and one that extolls the joy of research. Its amazing some of the things that you discover that were it to appear in a fictional book most people would claim that it wouldn’t happen.

    All the best with it.

  6. Anne Michaud July 8, 2011 at 8:44 AM #

    Di, the blog looks great and your post is awesome! So glad you took the plunge, your wise views on storytelling will benefit us all:)

  7. diannewaye July 8, 2011 at 8:57 AM #

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting! I appreciate all the support. And thanks, Anne for talking me into this.

  8. Ken July 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM #

    You have to, have to, have to read Krakauer’s Into the Wild.

    • jdwaye July 8, 2011 at 11:47 AM #

      I plan on reading Into the Wild – it’s next on my list. The store was out of copies last week. Though I can’t claim that one will be for reseach – just sheer reading pleasure.

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