Do You Research?
I’m working on another ‘weather story’ and found this video of a wind turbine self-destructing. I believe, based on what little I’ve read, this can happen in storm conditions if the brakes in the turbine fail.
I can’t remember if we’ve talked about ‘research’ here (so sorry if this is an old topic), but I just wanted to type out a few notes on research and my research habits.
I don’t typically begin a story based on research I’ve done. Usually my stories begin with a sentence or bit of language (the exception to this is the field guide to weather I’m working on, which pulls from a number of source texts — that’s another post perhaps). If I research, I usually do it because I’m stuck somewhere in the story. The research, whatever I discover, often functions as a little priming nipple attached to my brain, much in the same way revisiting a book by a favorite author works to restart my language engine. When I research, I’m usually looking not for knowledge about a subject, but for an image or length of text that I can work from. In this case, the image of this turbine collapsing has restarted the story I was stuck on, so I’m really happy to have found it.
My research process is less a planned out, serious and critical pursuit of information, and more a desperate, but confused sort of hunting/gathering.
I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in research; much of my early writing was like this. That’s why I’m scared of research in the formal sense. Oddly, I feel that if I plan out my research, I could suffer from target fixation and forget about why I began researching in the first place. I’m not sure if that makes sense, actually.
I think sometimes I can tell that a piece was heavily researched, especially when reading submissions: often there is an overwhelming flood of information that detracts from the text.
I envy the author who can research seriously and at great length and then manipulate that research to the benefit of the text.
Research as noun (OED):
1. The act of searching (closely or carefully) for or after a specified thing or person.
5. attrib. and Comb., as research assistant, building, bureau, council, degree, department,doctorate, fellow, fellowship, grant, lab, laboratory, library, officer, personnel, post,programme, project, room, scholarship, station, student, unit, vessel, work, worker;research-minded adj.; research and development, in an industrial context, work directed on a large scale towards the innovation, introduction, and improvement of products and processes; freq. as attrib. phr.; abbrev. R and D s.v. R II. 2a.
Research as verb (OED):
The above notes are about research as a formal pursuit. I appreciate the concept of research as living your life, reflecting upon your past, seeking a woman/man in love or marriage (Obs), and so on. If that is research, then we all research in some way, right?
Back to work.