The importance of research

I’ve spent most of this week sitting at my desk scribbling ideas about the who, what, when for a piece of fiction lurking in my brain. But, I can’t decide if it is linked stories or a full novel.  I think it takes place in Afghanistan, but maybe Iran, or even perhaps Turkey. Is it in the 21st century? I know there are refugees and I know there is an American nurse. All good things to know, but not nearly enough to begin creating.

In a moment of clarity I decided I needed more information.  Most importantly, I decided that research, i.e., reading, is ‘work’, is ‘writing’……maybe I’ll call it ‘pre-writing’.

Happily, I’m fully prepared for this moment.  An entire shelf of travel books describing foreign places during various centuries awaits my indulgence…..I mean, ‘research’.  I’ve begun with Mary Lee Settle’s Turkish Reflections. This is a wonderfully written memoir of her several years spent living in and learning about Turkey.  Personal, historical, descriptive.  It’s a joy to spend hours touring with her.

turkish reflections by MaryLee Settle 001

Next up is: Twelve Days in Persia, by Vita Sackville West, Somebody’s Heart is Burning by Tanya Shaffer, and A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Somewhere along this journey I will feel inspiration and direction to face down that empty pad of yellow paper again.  In the meanwhile, bon voyage to me.