I have a bad case of the Research Bug. I have been sick with this illness for as long as I can remember. It first showed itself while I was in college working in the Historical Archives Department. It was exciting, thrilling and addictive. I would delve into patron letters and then lose myself in the shelves of books and boxes of the department to answer their letters. I learned early that the use of all of your resources was imperative to find the answers you seek. Be creative. This is where I fell in love with musty books and old delicate letters. I was in heaven, researching lives of people’s past, connecting today with yesterday. I didn’t want to graduate only because I had to leave this department.
If these skills were to stay sharp, I needed a new research outlet. I used Heritage Hill to bring me back to the Archive Department. This time I was researching the families of the park. This research helped me accurately portray them as a first person character. I fell in love with someone else’s life. Imagining what kind of fear would send a Green Bay family to visit family in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania to avoid the epidemic of the season. What was she feeling? Did she resent leaving everything to get out-of-the-way of the epidemic? Was she excited to travel? I was thrilled to learn she met her future husband on that trip at a masquerade ball no less. What a great premise for a novel.
When I could not research, I read. This was far less as adventurous, but it filled the gap for a while. When I came back to writing, I found research has changed dramatically. Research is now computer driven. Everyone has information for a price. I grew frustrated with the constant roadblocks to the information I desperately sought.
I miss the microfilm and musty books. I miss the library and research departments. Now that my novels require more research, I am learning to navigate websites and research in a new way. This transition has been a good experience so far. I am learning about blogging, emailing and writing sources for more information. It has become in a sense more social than rows of books and delicate journals.
No matter how it changes, I still love research. I enjoy the sense of adventure, thinking outside of the box. This has taught me to be resourceful, adventurous and creative all at the same time. The research bug is an everlasting illness. It never gets boring. I am always optimistic the next page I open will tell me what I need. I am learning so much about people from the past. The ages I study teach me that our lives are pretty much the same. We all have ups and downs; joys and sorrows. The most important lesson through my research is how we get through life is strictly dependent on our attitudes and how we choose to handle our stresses. This message is clear through the ages.