Last week in a fit of retail therapy, I ordered research books online. They sneakily arrived while I was out of town (judging at the Australian Shepherd Club of America National Specialty, which was one of my lifetime goals - yay!). This morning I decided to organize my desk before jumping back into the writing. Good intentions and all, but alas I made the mistake of opening up the packages. I should have ruthlessly shoved them aside for weekend reading. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Did not.
A wrinkle in time then occured. 'Tis true. A black hole opened up beneath my chair on rollers and somehow I lost an hour of writing time. One moment it was 11:02 a.m. and the next thing I know, I glanced at my watch again and it was after noon.
One book follows the life of Robert the Bruce, and another about Edward II is still en route. Neither of these were available when the seeds of my stories were but moldy little sprouts in the lightless recesses of my brain. I'm hoping they'll help flesh out some weak points in the plot, but also afraid I'll end up adding another 30,000 words to bring realism to the story, then deleting the same amount later so as not to overwhelm the reader . It's a vicious cycle in the chaotic process that is writing, but it happens.
Next, I opened The Medieval Fortress, by Kaufmann and Kaufmann. I forgot I had laundry to fold, a story to finish and even, I'm pretty sure, my own name for awhile. Page after page of detailed sketches of castle gates, timber hoardings, and arrow loops (who knew there were so many different kinds?). Oh the glory and wonder of research! I read, I see PICTURES, and I am THERE!!!
Then I realized the danger that lurks for writers of historical fiction. Detail brings reality and credibility to stories, but it can also overrun them. Like dark chocolate and Toasted Almond coffee, both of which I love, research for me is best done in moderation - otherwise, I'd never get on with writing. So maybe the question is not 'how much is too much', but 'how much is enough'?
Okay, drawing on my inner strength and sliding those pretty books far, far awaaaaayyyy from me. I will not touch them until I have written today. I will not touch them until I have written today. I will not touch them until I have written today. I will not...