Research Scalpel

I’ve written about research before, but it feels like I forget my principles every now and then much like when I forget whether or not I’ve locked the door when I leave the house and go back four or five times to make sure that, yes, I really did lock the door; that, no, my neighbors are not going to choose now as the opportune time to break in; that, abso-fucking-lutely, I am getting old and paranoid.

Anyways, now that I’m jumping back into the swing of things to get Undead and Inhuman off the ground, the first god-awful step is the god-awful research.  Just now, as I ended that last sentence, I rubbed my eyes, looked up at the heavens, and muttered, “You Mary-fucker.”  I’m Catholic, but I’m confident enough to say such things to my deity.  He/she/it has yet to strike me down for it, or punish me by sending Lindsay Lohan to proclaim an unhealthy love for me.

Anyways, I ought to stop going off on a tangent.  I was talking about research.

To be honest, the thought of going back to the research phase had me shaking in the knees.  I’ve said it before, will say it again: research sucks.  True, you learn some pretty cool things in the process, but it’s a time-consuming affair, especially when you get to documentary research.  Sitting on ass watching TV might sound nifty at first, but it ain’t, not when you’re taking notes the whole time.

You’d think that by now, with college and grad school under my belt, I’d have a good grip on how to research.  I do, but researching for a paper is nothing like researching for a creative project.  The lines governing your thought process are blurred.  You research C.S. Lewis, you stick to all things C.S. Lewis.  Creative projects?  You can go off and off.

There are a few things about researching this time around that have made it less daunting than I thought it‘d be.  First, it turned out that a lot of the notes I had for The Coast could be reused for Undead and Inhuman.  Second, I did give myself a focus right off the bat.  Undead and Inhuman is a space story, so you need a stellar location (eh, I guess that pun was intentional) to write about, correct?  I settled on the Moon as that location.  There was no big debate over that.  I looked up at the sky and thought, “Well, the Moon‘s right there.  We can see it, and it can see us.  So why the hell not?”

With that in mind, anything not related to the Moon became off-limits, and even then, certain topics are taking priority over others.  Yes, I’m researching the lunar landscape and everything I can about the physical environment because, well, that will feed into my descriptions of it.  On the other hand, I’ll pass over anything that has to do with the Apollo Program because while that shows how people can get to the Moon, it’s also a method about forty or fifty years old.  Undead and Inhuman is supposed to be set in the future.

So, dear reader, take note of this: when you‘re out there researching the shit out of your great American novel, arm yourself with a scalpel, be focused in what you need to uncover so as not to waste all your time collecting useless garbage.  There will be additional research later.  That’s no lie.  You’ll have a draft, read through it, and realized that you overlooked something and need to go back and dig in a little.

Still, as long as you stay sharp, you’ll be able to make the best use of your time.

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