I don’t like research.
I love learning things. I love experimentation, and hypothesizing, and discovering how things work. At one point, I think I read almost every page on www.howstuffworks.com.
Yes, I’m a dork.
But “research” sounds like…work.
Seriously, I could spend all day trolling Wikipedia. I thought of adding a new thing to every blog entry, right at the top. Something like, “This fascinates me today,” followed by a link to something that…um…fascinates me today. Like this article about something called the uncanny valley. Or how the Hyperbole and a Half blog is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Or the Nathan Bransford column about how the entire Lost series was really a metaphor for the economic crisis of the last decade.
But if you ordered me to research these things? Snooze-fest.
Writing is funny that way. I never know what’s going to inspire me. And I draw inspiration from the most random places. Once I was out for a walk with Michael and Nicholas, and I was looking into these dense woods. I came up with an entire plot line for a novel about an elven soldier who has to steal a human girl every year to see if she’s the one who will save their prince from his plight. (Who the hell knows what his plight is? See — this is how writing works.) Every year, the girl is prepared for the prince, trained to be a princess, blah blah blah, but she turns out to be the wrong one, so the elven soldier is sent to find another. But one year, the girl he steals wants nothing to do with this princess crap. She wants the soldier to train her to fight. She wants to be a warrior. Bring on the swords! And when she learns she’s supposed to kiss the prince to see if she’s the chosen one (now I’m making some of this up on the fly), she uses her warrior skills to escape. And the prince comes after her, only to find out she’d rather drown than be with him. So he has to work to win her love, and that unlocks the key to ending his plight. He had to work for her kiss; he couldn’t just demand that love fall in his lap. So she saves his people and they live happily ever after.
No one write that, okay? I might need it if the four brothers let me down.
When I’m doing my “research,” I use a lot of YouTube videos so I can get a good feel for what something looks like. This can be rather hit or miss. (Good luck finding a real fight — as in a physical altercation — on YouTube.) I love Cobus Potgieter, and I watched his drumming videos any time I needed inspiration for Jack.
In my current novel, I have a scene where I need to create an explosion using a bag of fertilizer. I read all kinds of sites on fertilizer fires, and how ammonium nitrate reacts to fire, and what I could get away with. I watched a lot of YouTube videos of people shooting bags of fertilizer with a shotgun (drunk men will do anything) or putting ammonium nitrate in a glass with some other chemical to create an explosion. I texted my husband, asking him if he thought I could get away with writing about teenagers creating something that was essentially, a bomb.
Now that I think about it, with all this “research,” I might be on some FBI watch list somewhere.
Oh, yeah, and I guess I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos on Krav Maga. Those can be pretty hot. But I sent my husband an email from work on Wednesday that said nothing but, “Hey, I need you to put me in a choke hold tonight so I can see if I can get out of it.”
Luckily, he’s used to being married to a writer, and he responded, “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”
I decided the perfect time for this experiment was while we were in my mom’s house, while she was in the basement. I’m not sure what she thought when she heard me saying to my husband, “Do it now. Choke me. I want to see.”
Hey, look, when creativity knocks, you’ve gotta answer.
I just hope you people appreciate all this work I’m doing.