Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Research = Heaven
So, since I'm writing a book set in Ireland, it stands to reason that one of these days I'm going to have to travel to Ireland to talk to people about their local history. And when I do that, I can't just be mispronouncing everything I'm asking them about, can I? Which is why it makes perfect sense for me to have bought myself an English-Irish dictionary, as well as a beginner's language course (coursebook plus audio disks). When I proudly showed my purchases to my husband, he raised his eyebrows a fraction, and reminded me to be careful about not getting carried away with my research. He's been through the writing of one historical novel (#1) with me already, and apparently remembers quite well how, after spending a year or so learning all I could about 16th-century Venice, I felt compelled to cram every single fact I'd uncovered into the text of my novel, with a crowbar if necessary. Ah, but I know better now. When I was prowling on Amazon.com a few nights ago, trying to figure out how I could learn to speak Gaelic, did I not prudently (but reluctantly) refrain from also buying a copy of the actual 1659 Irish census, which could have been mine for a mere $25.00? I exercised restraint, but I have no doubt it would have been worth every penny. Because, for me, research is pure joy. If you're not looking to find out a specific thing, then there's just no way to do it wrong, and everything you find out just opens new doors. As opposed to writing, in which the ways to do it wrong outnumber the waves in the ocean, and so many of the doors you open lead into blind alleys and hidden traps. Writing is work. Research is fun. And some, but not all, of it will even find its way into the book. So I'm going to keep delving, and I'm going to try to learn Irish, which my first foray into the coursebook suggests will prove to be one of the world's more impossible languages. And, my fellow seeker, I leave you with this: May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back; may the sun shine warm upon your face; and, until we meet again, may God (Dia) hold you (tu) in the palm of His hand.