How ridiculous that someone who writes based on real life would be so scatter brained. It does not matter what I write, I check facts, times, places, people of importance. I want to make sure when someone reads something that they don't scratch their heads wondering how I managed to put an important landmark in the wrong city. There is no necessity to write like this, since most readers of fiction don't really worry too much about the details, as long as they are believable. So maybe I only do it because I love the research as much as the writing. Okay, that's a given. I have a large library full of books, many of them that I use as no more the reference.
Now I am researching something that is both personal and noteworthy. My great aunt, though not famous, was truly a trail blazer when it came to women's issues. Not content to be a housewife, even against the advice of family, she struck out on her own to confront a world that was novel to her. And she did it in field where women were not common. Not content to merely exist in one of the areas where women gained a tentative hold, such as gossip columnists or the society pages. No my great aunt wanted to do real news reporting. She did not want to be relegated to the edges of her profession in an 'acceptable' area, she forged ahead to rub shoulders with the men in the areas of news which changed our society.
I waited too long to take the time to investigate her. Too many of her contemporaries have already passed on. Most of the family has also gone, only my immediate family remains. So it is a task to try to find out about someone who is not so long gone, but not famous enough to have a trail of information. There is more than I expected, however. The problem is that each time I discover a new tidbit, it sends me off on another direction, to plead my case and hope it lands on fertile ground. Slowly, I am collecting pieces and parts. Unfortunately, some of it costs money. Actually a lot of it costs. If only I was a college student, with the resources of their libraries and better yet, sources of funding. Maybe next time.
As I move along at a sluggish pace between work and home projects, and gather the little scraps, I hope I get better at keeping track of the collection. The notebook I searched for was one that had many of the references which I was pursuing. To lose it would mean I would have to scramble around to rediscover where I found the first information. I should not complain overmuch, the computer desk is now much more civilized looking. I'd love to be able claim it was perfectly cleared but since the search occurred last week, it has already started collecting more scraps, papers, pictures, napkins, empty wrappers, and sundry other tidbits. But I have moved a file nearby, to drop in the latest of my acquisitions. Or at least those that make it into the den. Unfortunately, some of them are still sitting where they have been opened or where I was standing as I wrote.
So I question whether I am capable of managing this project. I so wish I was more like my great aunt, Urcel Daniel, with an organized mind and a tidy home. Of course she did not diversify quite as much as me, but there still must be some way of keeping my brain on track, at least in the area of finding things. It should not be so overwhelming. I do make the attempt on a regular basis to be more careful of where I put things. Yet I found another envelope with information from one of my latest contacts. If I were truly of the caliber of my great aunt, those notes would be transcribed into the notebook. I settled for putting the envelope in the file.
No matter how often I curse myself for being a space cadet first class, I don't seem to be able to solve it. Yet I cannot give up the research either. It is just a part of me that fuels my insatiable need for learning and information. Somehow, I have to find balance and make things easier on myself. Someone once told me the way to do it is to make notes and a to-do list for the following day. I tried, but I lost the note pad. Maybe God was humoring Himself when he made me. Give her a thirst for seeking, and then make her an airhead and watch the fun begin.
As a writer's website, I suppose I should be offering tips for improving. I could tell others how to make references, get names, dates and places, and then keep a diary or journal so that they are right at your fingertips if anyone asks. I think others should do this. It would really make your life easier. Or you could just learn creative muttering to yourself that even makes the dogs a little nervous. I've perfected that method, so if anyone needs any tips, I'll be happy to share them.
In the mean time, I think I'll just remind people, if they really want to do something, if they want success, then just keeping plugging along and accept the faults and falters along the way as one more step. It won't simplify it for anyone, but if I can manage to muddle through an investigative quagmire and still manage to get out of bed every morning, I promise you can do anything you set your mind to.