Research counts as writing, right?

For the past three months, I’ve been immersed in research for a new writing project. I’ve spent many happy hours exploring the culture, history, mythology, language, terrain and daily life of a society I knew very little about, until now. I can’t tell you what  the subject of all this research is about because I’m sworn to secrecy. But I can tell you that the subject thrills me to my creative core.

Unfortunately, my love of research has led to an absolute abandonment of writing; even my blog has suffered. I eat, breath, dream, and drink the world of my newest book project. I hear the language in my dreams. The civilization died thousands of years ago, but they are as alive to me as my own neighbors.

I can spend every day for months in a library surrounded by dusty books on a single subject and not lose my mind. Or maybe I do? Do other people love research as much as I? In grad school, I loved my thick text books and all the knowledge they contained. I read chapters I didn’t have to, just because I was curious to find out what they were about.

Imagine me, a pale, too thin woman wearing thick glasses and an oversized sweater huddled over a book with such fragile pages I have to read them wearing cotton gloves. The room is dark, except for the brilliant light from the lamp on my table. My tea is cold and my leg has fallen asleep, but I can’t stop reading. I can’t stop learning.

Others might find it a nightmare. Why would anyone want to spend their whole life in a library? But to me, that sounds like heaven. There are a million stories in the library, and a million more waiting to be written.

I missed my calling; I should have been a research librarian.

But it’s time to set my books aside and write down what I’ve learned. It’s time to craft a story out of all these fragments of facts. Have I learned enough to make my characters breath again? We’ll see.

6 thoughts on “Research counts as writing, right?

  1. I really loved this post. I am writing a novel at the moment and my story takes place during the surrealist era of the 1920’s in Paris. I live in Australia…in 2014 as you know…so the amount of research I am required to do has been incredibly time consuming. There are many perks of course….I am able to totally justify going to Paris twice in 1 year :). I find it fascinating to dive into a time and culture so foreign though, and although a little voice in the back of my mind whispers “Write what you know”…I just reply “Well if I dont know it yet, best I go and learn about it” :).


  2. What a gift to fully engross yourself in research. To loose yourself in a quest for knowledge. I am so intrigued and looking forward to your sharing the subject mater. Can you give us a hint?


  3. Fascinating that I should receive this from you today — I was invited to a lunch meeting about encouraging student success with our old colleagues Tina and Justin(!) It’s like . . . going home.
    I liked the imagery in your post — the dark room with the brilliant light shining on the book brought to mind Mr. Sawyer in “Citizen Kane” visiting the library with that single shaft of light illuminating the only table in the room. I’d be fascinated to learn someday what this project was about — Sumer? Egypt? The Indus Valley? But they could have found no one better to do this work than you, Terena.


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