As I’m going through the final polish of Scold of Jays, I realized I’ve made a mistake with my research guide; I dropped topic I’d marked for validation. #Rookiemistake.
I keep a running list of research topics to tackle when I’m in internet range, or have access to the book store or library. When you live remotely, information access becomes a scheduled time slot—whereas when I lived within satellite and or wifi range, I might think of a topic or question as I’m writing and immediately go look it up on the internet.
Having instant access to the internet for every question that pops up is both a blessing and a curse. (Remember that time I tried to look up arsenic poisoning symptoms while I was writing a chapter, then FOUR WEEKS LATER, I emerged from my room and said, “I found the best recipe for salt dough from the American Revolution!”.) One click on a link about Napoleon’s death symptoms had led to another click on bread wars, to French debt to the American cause, to well… a month of lost time as I couldn’t stop reading the WHOLE internet from beginning to end.
Not to mention, when you have immediate access to the internet, it’s easy to say, “I’ll just take a quick break and check my emails,” which turns into an hour, followed by another hour on Facebook, followed by a Twitter binge, followed by… well, you get it. Five lost hours that I could have been busting out a chapter.
Living off the main pipeline means, focus. When I’m writing, I’m writing. There are no interruptions or distractions. It’s priceless. It’s blissful.
To support this process, I keep notebooks of questions as they arise, and tag my manuscript with notions of details to research when I’m in range. In order to keep the writing tap at full pressure, I just come back to those details by writing around them, or inserting (x) to hold the marker until I can verify data.
Scold of Jays had three legal pads of notes for checking data, and cross-checking world-building notes. Somewhere in the move from Portland to the coast…I lost a notebook. It’s probably in a box in a closet of my old apartment, that I missed. It could also very well be lost at one of the dozens of coffee shops where I sat to work, or on the table at the sushi bar on Division. Either way, someone will stumble across a legal pad with questions such as: “Cattle mutilations in Scotland?” “Fastest way to dismember cadaver?” “Historical weather chart for Dublin, December 2011?” “How long does it take blood to congeal at room temperature?” “Emily Dickinson poem about death?” All of these questions and the research will make sense after someone reads Scold of Jays. At least, I hope it will make sense.
Unfortunately, I’m certain some poor soul who finds my research list at a coffee shop will think they were sitting where a serial killer drank some raspberry mint tea and plotted a murder.
When I unpacked my writing boxes and rebuilt my permanent storyboard, I realized one of my research notebooks was missing. I tried to make a new one with the questions I could remember that I still needed to validate…but some topics must have slipped in the crack.
As I’ve been going through this final polish, I hit a chapter that I wrote, revised ten times, then pushed through, and after seeing the same set of words no less than a dozen times…it triggered a memory of what was in the original notebook that I hadn’t actually verified. “Historical weather chart for Dublin, December 2011?”
Sonofabitch. Four chapters have the wrong weather details for historical accuracy. AFTER the proofer has already been through. #headdesk
So…here I am…a week out from delivery to layout…trying to re-configure the atmospheric details in four chapters, and NOT MAKE ANY TYPOS during these corrections. Cramming edit session in before my shift at the restaurant.
Some days I ask myself, “Why couldn’t you have just wanted to be an accountant, Athena? Why?”