Monday, November 17, 2014
Researching Like A Boss
Writing is 10% of what I do. The other 90%, like the iceberg that the Titanic hit, is below the waterline. It's research. It's the bulk that lurks unseen.
In order to get its dimensions, and to find a fissure to explore, to get a handle on my topic, I have to put on snorkle, fins, dry suit and dive in.
Research is like following Ariadne's golden thread through the labyrinth. You pass rooms. Corridors that go nowhere. Some that lead promisingly only to locked boxes and you're like, Screw this. I'm getting up from my desk and snacking on shell-on pistachios.
Other times you get daffy, mixed up, and giddy and think down is up and kick toward the substrate and not the sky and lose all track of time and the dog (remember? you have a dog), who has been whining to go out all this time, can finally wait no longer and pees on the rug. This is a true story.
Sometimes you catch a glimpse of the Minotaur and that's scary. You want to walk away from the Minotaur. Sometimes you think you have the Key to All Mythologies like poor Mr. Casaubon in Middlemarch and you chortle, Victory! Huzzah!... but it's premature, the way goes dark again. There's more work to be done.
Then -- well, how do, thread -- there it is again, gleaming. Take hold of it. Don't let go.