Let me start with a bold statement: I love research. Libraries are my temples. I find dusty ancient tomes incredibly attractive. The Internet is my playground, leading me from one adventure to another. Therein lies the problem.
Research is addictive for me. Back when I practiced law, the research was the best part of my work. I could spend hours, days even, running down an obscure point. Clients don’t appreciate such enthusiasm, though. They don’t want to pay for all those hours spent in the library. When the monthly billable hours were submitted, I had to cut the amount of hours I really spent on a project. I learned that for lawyers, research is done in moderation.
Fast forward to 2015. I no longer have a senior partner or a frugal client looking over my shoulder. I have the luxury of time. I have always read historical fiction and now I have the time to write those stories. I can spend my days reading books at the university library or poring over journals at the historical society. I can feed my addiction. Here is my dilemma: how do I stop? How do I get the research monkey off my back?
About two months ago, a seed for a story took root after I heard a Science Friday piece on the history of speech synthesis. I didn’t do much about the idea, other than jotting some notes in the journal I keep for possible stories. At first, I thought it would be just a short story set in the past with the potential for a Steam punk theme. Then I began what I thought would be a little research. Down, down, down the rabbit hole I fell. One avenue of inquiry lead to three others. My story concept grew with each new tunnel of knowledge I explored. I’m in uncharted waters, but I’m quite content to continue to sail on.
So here I am, lost in Virgina City in the 1880’s, with two characters who haven’t quite made up their minds where their story will take them. I do wish they would tell me. The more I read about the time and place of my story, the more questions I have.
Dear reader, when do I stop researching?