Monday, April 23, 2007

Ah, Sweet Research

Rather suddenly I recalled that I actually own several books on ancient Egypt. And considering that my newest novel endeavor relies heavily on the history of the Old Kingdom, I pulled a couple of those books from the shelves and sat down to page through them.

I had forgotten how sweet it is to be nose deep in book research. There is nothing quite like the feel of the pages under my fingertips, to smell the binding and the dust, to page through an index until I find my search subject and flip through the book to the indicated pages. Eyes scan the page with a practiced ease until it leaps from the page. I read over the paragraph. I might read the next several or page backwards to the beginning of the chapter. I delight in reading words that have been written, rewritten, edited, revised, cited, sources, and printed in a manner the internet could never afford.

And, unlike internet research, I find more leads to new information and a wealth of details I'd only hoped to uncover. Pages of them within my grasp, books of them within the bibliography.

How I long to be buried at some library cubicle behind a wall of books, pages exposed to reveal their secrets. How I long to be tapping my pencil against my notepad while my gaze scans across a page. There! A bit of detail, a date, a phrase . . . I copy it quickly in my crooked short-hand cursive. Time warps past me until I've exhausted the books before me and then the agonizing decision of staying to add to the pile or taking my off with the treasures I've gleaned from each book.

I could lose myself in the research. Which is one reason I now wait until after the first draft is finished to really fling myself headlong into it. There is no more hallowed hall for me than the dark recesses of a well-booked library.

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