I knew that I was a research junkie. How could I not know that? Researching has been at the top of my writing procrastination list for, well, forever. I get caught up in the things I'm reading, the fascinating facts I'm learning, and somehow manage to avoid what I should be doing--putting words on the page!
If you'd asked me last week, "What do you like to read?" or, "What are you passionate about?" I would've said pretty much the same thing I've said for years: mystery, fantasy, adventure, science fiction, technology. Same old, same old. It's all still true, but the epiphany I had--that came as I recovered from a dazed glut of historical research for my current writing project--is that over-arching all of those interests is a love of history.
Somewhere along the line, that changed. I still have the fascination I've always had for the '30s and '40s, but that fascination has now expanded to include the 1920s as well. Heck, I've been researching everything from 1800 to 1930 recently and I've loved every moment of it. Think about the descriptions historians use to refer to various times: the Victorian Era, the Gay Nineties, the Gilded Age, the Edwardian Era, the Roaring Twenties, and the Jazz Age. How could you not want to know more about a time called the Gay Nineties or the Gilded Age?
How did people live? What did they think and believe? Was it different in New York than in London? What technology existed and what was being invented? What about the leaders of the day--what did they think, not just what did they do? So many changes in national boundaries and governments occurred from 1700 to 1900 in Europe and across the globe, it makes me a bit dizzy when I'm reading about multiple eras.
When I glance at my bookshelves--we won't go into how many there are at this juncture, ok?--I can't help but notice that history books take up a significant amount of space. The picture in this post is of one of the shelves of non-fiction in my house. You can see there are several eras represented, from ancient to modern. I don't claim to have read them all cover-to-cover, but even those I've only skimmed so far have yielded valuable insights.
Sometimes I feel like I missed out by not taking some of those college classes when I could have done so, but then again, maybe I needed to find this infatuation on my own, in my own time, so that it's fresh and new and my enthusiasm is high and ready to propel me into writing.
Because at the end of the day, as fun as I'm finding all the historical research, the things I'm learning are fascinating for one ultimate reason: they're fuel for my story. And that's definitely something to be excited about!
How about you? Are you a closet history buff? Do your friends look at you strangely when you suddenly say things like, "Did you know that Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain were close friends?" Or do you--*yawn*--nod off when confronted with anything remotely related to history?