The beast named Research


11/22/63
11/22/63 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently, as in two days ago, started reading Stephen King’s newest to hit the shelves called 11/22/63.  I picked it up last Friday on my daughter’s birthday when she asked/begged/pleaded to go to the book store so she could get the next in her new favorite series called Goddess Girls.  (A great way to refresh the Greek Gods to an 8-year-old which is why ‘Santa’ brought the first one for Christmas).

I had seen the book in a different store, read the summary and started to want it.  I’ve mentioned before that I enjoyed his work, more in the past than recent years, but I still keep my eye out on what he puts out.  I’ve never gotten into the Dark Tower series though my husband has.

The last one I’ve read of Stephen King was (runs upstairs to double-check despite the kids staring at me like I’m nuts and wondering why I’m allowed to run in my house and they aren’t, don’t parents prerogative suck???)  Duma Key which came out in 2008, but I didn’t read it until 2009 because I talked myself into buying it.  It was good, don’t get me wrong, but hardly on par with The Stand (my absolute favorite of his) or with The Tommyknockers (the first one of his that I read).

Now, 11/22/63, for those who don’t know, explores the idea of time travel.  I’m only halfway through, approximately anyway, by the end of the today I’ll be on the other side of halfway.  The fact that I’ve gotten as far as I’ve had so quickly tells me several things, it’s great just like I’m used to with him and that my excuse of not having time to read is only half-true.  When I have time and get started on a book that just sucks me in, well, then I make time.  If I get started on one that only mildly interests me, it takes longer. Poor fact of life unfortunately.

Anywho, in reading this book I’m impressed by the biggest factor involved.  Not the plot, or the characters (both interesting by significant degrees), but by the research that he had to put into this book.  We’re talking about 849 pages chocked full of research of the years 1958 to the late 1960s….which I now find out that he was living during that time period so now I’m only a little less impressed (he still has to remember what it was like back then and since he was in his teens, that’s hard to do after all this time), but he also had to research the bigger events so overall, color me impressed and we’ll move on.

Now, I love to research.  It was a skill taught to me by my father and the school system (more the former than the later) and I’d have to call myself a tangent researcher.  What I mean by this is that I’ll start researching one thing and end up researching a totally different something.  Yeah, no kidding and not in the mood to give an example (from nanotechnology to multiple realities, there you have one).  When it comes to writing a story, this can make life rather….interesting.

One might think that it leads me to a different idea of how to go about writing my story.  It’s a good theory…it’s wrong…but solid.  Another might wonder how the hell can I get any of my stories written if I spend so much time researching in so many damn tangents.  It’s a good question, but I have plans to handle such possibilities.  Instead of researching what I plan to write, I write then research as needed on the immediate subject matter.  Once I find what I’m looking for, I drop it the research and go back to writing.

I know, I know!  It’s a bad way to go.  You should, with all types of writing, research before writing.  And you’re right, you should, but I can’t.  I remember one time when I was in high school.  I had to research a history project dealing with Alexander the Great.  Easy, right?  Wrong.  I started right after school, which for me was around 3 PM.  Walked to the library, got several books and camped out.  By the time I looked up it was around 5 PM (no cell phones back then so you can imagine how my parents reacted when I slinked home at 5:45 PM trying to look apologetic and failing) I had somehow deviated from Alexander the Great to how Greek Mythology became Roman Mythology with a twist.

No, I’m not joking or exaggerating.  They are sort of related to Alexander the Great…

……..

Okay, I know they aren’t, but you get the idea.

The point is that research is a fine art just like writing.  My inability to stay on topic for longer than an hour when I’m researching could be seen as a limitation, but in all honesty, since I have just as much trouble sticking to a planned outline (even for essays for College by the way) I’m honestly not surprised because often times, how I expect a story to end…it never does.  It can’t, not with my mind finding someway to twist in a connection that never exists.

So this is how I tackled the beast named research…how do you?

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4 thoughts on “The beast named Research

  1. I was such a research monkey in grad school, and I find myself delving into research for my own writing. I like your post – knowing I’m not the only one who thinks about it.

    • In my experience there are people who love it or hate it. They do it because it’s necessary, but if they love it they get too distracted by it, if they hate it they don’t put their all into it. It’s a fragile balance. No fear, you’re not the only one…promise 🙂

  2. Not much of a researcher. Lazy as hell, but it’s a skill I’d love to have. Maybe in another life 🙂

    Enjoy reading the rest of 11/22/63, I personally loved it. I’m sure you will too!

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