The Writer as a Polymath

As I come to the end of my two-week hiatus from my alien invasion novel, I’ve come to realize how close writers are to polymaths.  We’re not carbon copies, of course, but we do have our moments.  Like da Vinci, Galileo, Ben Franklin and Asimov, we have to, at times, try to know everything about everything.

This week, I’ve done research and notes for another novel I have in mind, one that puts the theme of man versus nature onto another planet.  To get all the details right (or as close to right as I can get), I’ve had to be a planetologist, climatologist, chemist, physicist, botanist, zoologist and astronautical engineer all at once.  Again, I’m no expert, just an inspired amateur, but when you sit back to think about it, you start to see that research for a writer is almost as big an ordeal as the writing itself.  You pile up hundreds of pages of reading material, take thousands of notes, and absorb it all.  And then, when you go to bed at night, you remember that you still have to make a narrative to go with it.

How do you keep your head from exploding?  I don’t believe I said anything about your head not exploding.  In fact, whenever I feel worn down by hours and hours of research, I try to remind myself that this will all ultimately find its way to the page.  You know how you bottle up your anger and people tell you to let it out by punching a pillow?  Same concept.

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