I’m warning you. Don’t do it. Yeah, I know. Little kids do it. Middle schoolers do it. High school students definitely do it, and the majority of college students do it. What is “it” you ask? “It” refers to the Pavlovian response non-writers exhibit when their instructors give them a research assignment. There is no need for you to assume the fetal position. There is no need for you to resort to weeping, wailing, and the gnashing of teeth.
I would expect such behavior out of graphophics. (Research the word if you don’t know what it means.) But not YOU. You are writers. Bite the bullet. Accept the challenge. Take it like a man, a burly man with hair on his chest. Better yet, take it like Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, James Patterson or Alice Sebold. If you want to write, write. But first do your research.
Except for the few times when I was given an opportunity to interview a band on the spur of the moment, I’ve had to do my homework as I prepared for an interview. Note to potential journalists: Some celebrities get frustrated when they have to spout off the same information that is easily found on their websites. I always start there and then ask myself, “What did the publicist fail to mention?” I start there as I make my list of questions. OR if I do find an interesting fact on the website, I will intentionally ask the person to tell me about it so that I can get a fresh quote, one that I won’t have to credit to another publication. Plus, people generally appreciate the fact that you consider them worthy of your time investment.
I don’t consider spending ten minutes Googling the name or topic adequate research. And by all means, don’t stop with your Wikipedia responses. I always take my research as far as it will go. Remember when I told you I tracked down the mother of the drummer of a California ska band so that I could get an interview with him? Trust me. I didn’t find her name on the first try. (I am NOT advocating that you harass or stalk. Please see the previous blogs concerning stalking.)
Now that I’m learning more about fiction, I have realized that researching my story has been both challenging and fun. My main character TJ is a Memphis transplant, so my family and I traveled to Memphis and spent a lot of time on Beale and in the “scary areas” of Memphis to get into his head, to understand WHY he would make some of his decisions. Research has its benefits, you know. I can name a few we picked up in Memphis: ribs, ribs and more ribs.
Sometimes research can even have a positive impact on the writer. TJ is a runner.A five-mile run is nothing to him, but he’s not the organized sports type. He is more of a freerunner, which comes in handy being that he has ticked off the entire football team. TJ actually considers himself a traceur because he practices parkour (PK). As a result of my research, I am now fascinated by freerunners and traceurs, and I hope to include an interview with the freerunner Tcup very soon.
I would like to be a traceuse—that’s the fancy French name for a girl who practices parkour—but there are a few things holding me back.
- One, parkour enthusiasts are young. (Strike one.)
- Two, parkour involves endurance. (Strike two.)
- Three, parkour involves speed. (Strike three.)
I am sorry to say I will never be a traceuse. However, I have made a strong effort to pursue better physical fitness. Perhaps with my pursuit of physical fitness I can also work toward those nonphysical atttributes parkour enthusiasts value: respect toward others, humility, sharing of knowledge and the love of having fun.
I’m really liking that part about having fun. But guess what? Physical fitness is HARD. You have to WORK at it before it become FUN. Remember I am she who lacks endurance, coordination and youth, emphasis on youth. Running around my block once is about all the physical fitness I can endure. I’m exaggerating here. I said running around the block once. I have not made it one full round running once. Walking, crawling, panting and heaving have also been involved. If I had to major in one of those values parkour enthusiasts value, it would be humility. I have already suffered, through my pursuit of physical fitness, more humiliation than a woman my age should.
I went to Walmart tonight with the intent of purchasing apparel that might encourage my physical fitness, and I found the perfect outfit. Pardon me if I don’t get the color exactly right, but I believe they call it mossy oak. I’ve included a similar picture below. I like to keep my activities on the DL (yes, I know the phrase is outdated—so am I) so that I keep the humiliation to a minimum. Perhaps as I pursue my physical fitness I will not be noticed.