Reader questions–I have answers!

This week I’m at my very first writers’ retreat, hopefully planting fields and fields of tidy, cultivated prose for you. Can you tell I’m excited? I get to geek out and play with WORDS, y’all. I have packed all my writing kimonos–yes, I know that’s not the proper plural–and several different projects I intend to whip into shape. While I’m away, I’ll be posting a combination of new entries based on reader questions and pieces from the archives.

Reader Janet asked via Twitter about research: Does the book idea lead to research of the research lead to a book idea?

Oh, what a good question! And one to which there is no easy answer because it’s very much a question of chicken v. egg. I read constantly–memoirs, biography, natural history, essays, novels–any and all of which counts as research. Even when I’m reading something that is technically out of my chosen time period, I will find the odd scrap of information or a thread of a personality I can use. Those little gems get filed away for future reference.

Then, when I have an actual book idea taking shape, I start my research in earnest in a much more focused way. I collect anything and everything that I think might contribute to the book and begin to plow my way through it. Since I only write about things that interest me, this is rarely anything other than enjoyable. (That’s actually a technique I recommend–choose to write about subjects you REALLY like because you will be spending much time with them. Much, much time.)

For me, research and ideas is a deep and twisty symbiotic thing. There is no way to separate one from the other.