Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Becoming an Expert

As a writer, I get to research.

A lot.

Every single book I write means that I get to learn something new. I think that’s why I love writing so much. I get to learn about carpentry, about Wisconsin, about deep sea diving, about ancient Chinese acupuncture, about shoes called golden geese…

And about pirates.

Right now, this has been a little more than a fascination for me. Last year, for our anniversary, my husband and I decided to go to a museum exhibit all about pirates. I hadn’t really thought much about them, other than on speak like a pirate day, or when watching Pirates of the Caribbean. Let’s just say that after we went, I had all sorts of plot bunnies hopping around. There were so many potential stories in the lives of the sailors, on ships, and especially concerning pirates.

My novel in November was highly influenced by pirates, though it did become my own interpretation. Of course, since I had pirates, I needed to have my characters on ships as well. I had to do a lot of research, and it felt like a lot more than normal. Ships are complicated, from the responsibilities to the directions. I knew nothing about it, and it was hard to keep straight. I kept copious notes in Scrivener so that I wouldn’t get lost. I bought books on piracy and ships.

I even get excited to meet pirates!

I honestly still feel like a novice, especially when writing intense scenes on the sea. I’m just making it up as I go. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time.

A few weeks ago, our writing group was supposed to have a ship and pirate expert come and talk to us. Unfortunately, we all got there, and the presenters didn’t show up. One let us know in advance, but the other was a no-show. We didn’t have anyone else, so I became our impromptu ‘pirate/ship’ expert. Let’s just say I didn’t feel like an expert. But the more I talked and read my notes, the more I realized that I absorbed a lot more than I knew.

I kind of know this stuff. Not enough to be an expert by any means, but I understand the culture, and I can at least hold my own.

This is why I love writing. I get to learn about things I never would have learned in the first place. Things that didn’t necessarily come up while I was in school.

I love learning. I love writing.