I owe a great deal of credit for my writing skills to my parents, especially my mother.
When I was very little, I would make up stories in my head and tell them to her. She encouraged me to write them down. So I did. Often in crayon. These stories were often illegible since my handwriting as a child was, in my mother’s words, “atrocious”. But I wrote them nevertheless.
But sometimes, I needed answers as to why something worked a certain way to write a story about it. Why does an owl fly with no sound? Who was the king of England during the First Crusade? What exactly is small pox?
My parents owned not one, but two sets of encyclopedias, as well as a couple of dictionaries and thesauruses. All were heavy books, but I remember spending time just digging through them. After all, when I asked a question about something as a child, my parents would answer honestly.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you go look it up?”
So, “look it up” I did. Whether it be exhausting the supply of encyclopedic knowledge in my own household or checking books out of the various libraries I had access too, I was always looking things up. I learned how to always be researching. I was always reading. I was always learning. That was what I comprehended from a very young age.
I have numerous memories of teachers teaching me skills and encouraging me as well. My fourth grade teacher gave me time to research things that interested me and actively inspired me to continue to follow my pursuits. Other teachers along the way helped me to hone the critical thinking skills my parents taught me, reinforcing strategies and teaching me new ways to research. My college professor advisor challenged my thinking and helped me to learn to think outside the box.
I still research now, even though I have not been a student in years.
Since I was eighteen years old, in my “free time” from my other pursuits and general duties, I have researched my own family history. I not only get the names, dates and places my family lived, but I have been actively pursuing the why and when of the places they lived and the occupations they chose. I have immersed myself in the study just as I immerse myself into my story writing. Since it appears my love of history is genetic… since my pap was a member of his History club in high school…. it seemed natural to me to just have this love of history and the research that goes along with it. In that pursuit of family history, I have amassed a collection of books, papers and online websites dedicated to the local histories, genealogy, and the what not that surround my family as well.
I write a blog on that research (linked in my drop-down menu if you are interested). Some months, I get a post a week. Lately, I’m lucky to get a post a month. But I still research for it. Often, I am blaring some sort of instrumental music via my smart speaker or computer while I do so. Right now, I have been binging on Lindsey Sterling’s music.
I also do a vast amount of research for my fictional writing as well. I want my stories, though often fantastical, to be relatable and fairly realistic. That means often getting research on things like castles, swords, how owls fly, what bulls sound like, what the symptoms of hypothermia are, and a vast plethora of other imaginings.
And yes, I did research all of those things.
I just also have a natural curiosity. I need to know not just the how of things, but the why as well. Family members, coworkers and friends have all called me nosy more often than not. There are times I have reign in my inquisitiveness because it can be meddlesome. But I am almost always trying to find out things and learning things. It’s just how my brain is wired.
Besides, all of this learning makes me great at certain trivia games as well.
After all, Gandhi once stated: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
And L. Frank Baum once wrote: “No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.”
I continue to try to learn, whether it be a new language, a bit of trivia, why something works the way it does or what my ancestors could have done….. I also continue to write this into my stories as well.
After all, I am continuing to write my own story…..
If you liked this blog post and wanted to see some of the fantasy works I have written, check out my Portals Series. If you are interested in my other online endeavors, check out the drop down menu.
And as always, #writeyourownstory