I’m finding that I can spend whole days doing research for Set Me Free, which is good because my opinions have to be solidly grounded on facts. It can be frustrating, though, because by the time I’ve tracked down and read as much as I can manage for the day, I’m so tired that it’s hard to do any real writing.
It’s frustrating in other ways, too. I have to budget for books, and when a book that I really really would like to buy is outrageously priced, it’s hard to just put it out of my mind and tell myself that there’s plenty of other material and it won’t really be missed. And then there are the leads that don’t pan out, the people I’d like to know more about but can’t find much information, the fascinating side tracks that I’m tempted to follow . . .
On the good side, it’s helping me learn self-discipline (a little), particularly when I find myself writing something that doesn’t belong in the book. Time to copy and paste to another folder. For this organizationally impaired person, finding ways to keep track of the important material and to organize it into chapters is pretty overwhelming, but I’m getting there.
Google is a godsend, no matter what negativity people come up with about it. A lot of the material I’m looking for is years old, and it’s amazing to be able to drill way down into Google’s search pages and finally come up with a gem. It doesn’t always happen, but it isn’t Google’s fault. Links break, sites disappear. Newspapers are particularly bad about keeping usable archives. One newspaper had a lot of good articles about Bill Poyck’s execution, so I copied the URLs until I could get around to them. Alas, it turned out that after some length of time (about a month or so), only the lead paragraphs were available unless you subscribed. At least it taught me to copy articles immediately if they’re from sites I’m not familiar with. Sites like the NY Times only allow you ten articles a month unless you register, and it’s easy enough to run out pretty quickly. Okay, save that link for next month.
The internet, overall, is a godsend for anyone who doesn’t live anywhere near a high quality library. There are limits to how much you can do, certainly, but nothing like the old days, when I lived out in the boonies of a rural southern town.