My Latest Crave

Looking at newspaper copyI’ve always been curious about the world. Part of the reason I read so much as a child was because I wanted to experience far away places and understand our history. As a writer, I spend a good amount of time doing research. I like to learn as much as possible about whatever subject I’m writing about.  Recently, though, reading doesn’t feel like enough. I want to experience things. I want to know what it feels like to fly in a T-38 with someone who has trained as a test pilot and aspires to be an astronaut. I want to spend a day with a forest ranger, explore nature with a fresh pair of eyes. My mind races with all of the things I want to experience.

In September I was talking with my mom and the idea of a writer’s internship came to me. My dream would be to take a few days each month to shadow workers in various fields, to acquire first hand knowledge of the sights, smells, and emotions of each job. I haven’t figure out how I’m going to manage that yet, so, for now, I’m working on experiencing something new at least once a month. As luck would have it, my first experience happened the same weekend in September.

I was in North Carolina and the Oconaluftee Great Smoky Mountains Welcome Center outside Cherokee was having a Pioneer Days exhibition.  There were volunteers demonstrating how to make lye soap, sorghum molasses, apple cider, corn husk brooms, woven-bottom chairs, and even musicians playing old country songs. It was enlightening to see how innovative the pioneers were. In many respects they were better at recycling than we are today. I made sure to take pictures and videos of everything in case I ever decide to write a book set in the early days of the United States.

 

Back in Florida, I spent a beautiful October Saturday exploring Cocoa Village. Well, to be honest I didn’t explore the shops as much as I wanted because there was a HUGE craft

fair taking place. I did enjoy wandering among the booths, checking out the offerings.  There are some truly talented folks out there. One of the lady exhibitors makes planters/bird feeders out of tea cups. I wanted to buy all of them! They were adorable.

I don’t know what my adventures will be for November or December. There’s been some discussion of spending a weekend down toward the Everglades with a friend. Not sure if that will pan out or not, but I’m sure I’ll find something new to experience.

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Comments

  1. tarafairfield says:

    What a wonderful idea! Good for you. I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  2. My favorite part of research is getting offline and outside. Historical research often begins with finding an old cemetery. Understanding what the terrain is like, where the cemetery was located and collecting names and dates gives me a visual for when I go to the records. I have a dream to start two writing retreats in northern Idaho based on exactly what you are talking about — getting out and experiencing nature or the “wild west” to inform one’s writing no matter one’s genre. Living, observing, experiencing becomes the rich details in our writing.

  3. I would love to do that–travel the world and do research for my books. (Maybe someday…)

  4. While my hubby and I traveled the country for 6 years living in an RV, we visited several historical parks. I really enjoyed learning how to strum a lap harp from one of the musicians. I sat down, had my fingers placed on the chords, and strummed away. She said I should try taking lessons. I also tried making a pot on a kick wheel, a much more difficult endeavor. My pot looked lopsided but who cares? I was too nervous to try glass blowing but it was fascinating to watch. Enjoy each experience and we’ll see them in your books.

  5. My writing depends heavily on research, too, and I agree that there’s nothing like being there.
    My first published book was set in 6th-century eastern Europe, so on-the-spot research was out of the question. I returned to eastern Europe for my third book, Army of Worn Soles, about one man’s experience on the Eastern Front in World War 2. I depended on books, Wikipedia, other websites and interviews with the subject of the book for details.
    But for my Lei Crime novella, published last summer, I realized I would have to travel to the setting, Maui, to get some details that just don’t appear in books or online. Like “what does the soil feel like?” A tiny detail, to be sure, but one that was essential to the story I was telling.
    And the trip was more than worth it – it showed me that I would have to change a lot of the elements of the book I wrote, which did not make sense in the reality of Maui.
    Research is essential.

  6. I love your new plan. I’ll look forward to reading more about your adventures. There’s no telling what marvelous things you may wander into.

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