Thursday, January 15, 2009

The History of Relativity...

As I plod ahead with my writing and research, I've realized something: our information-filled society is both a blessing and a curse. Last weekend's fervent search for information on one location proved futile and the chapter has been dropped. While a book adamantly declared a historic figure to be gay, there was overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

That's the biggest struggle I have with this book: research. I like to be thorough, yet so many things in history are contradictory. Our history is a collection of opinions overshadowing facts. While one line of research heads in one direction, others lead away from it. Often, what we are taught about our history isn't what is true; it is what we want to believe.

Take the Puritans, for example. From earliest American History classes, we have a picture in our minds of the landing at Plymouth Rock. But what we envision isn't always reality. The sad truth which is absent from those history books is why they landed there. It wasn't some glorious moment of revelation. The weary travelers were out of beer and needed to find land fast to build a still. Plymouth was the first plot of earth they found... so their alcoholic desires were granted. Not so pretty, eh? Well, history isn't pretty. It's honest.

Sorting through piles of information is slowing down my writing. But I'd rather be behind on a few chapters and be accurate than ahead of schedule and full of misinformation. I have new notes to take, revisions to make on chapters written this week, and tons of papers to file. In one week, I have emptied an entire printer cartridge on printed research. Book excerpts, notes, etc. Some was a waste of paper. But in the grand scheme of things, nothing is a waste. Every misstep leads closer to truth.

My greatest irritation is the sheer lack of information on some ghostly tales. One chapter dealing with Nevada has yielded but one paragraph of research. The further I dig, the more empty bedrock I hit. I have a feeling that chapter might be extremely short, but I refuse to give up entirely. Other chapters have too much information, so there will be stark contrasts in length. But we shall see what the final product becomes.

Otherwise, the bitter cold weather hasn't dampened my spirits. I took the time to read a few books and short stories here and there (reading always helps inspire me to write) and watch a few classic movies late at night after my eyes were too sore from staring at a computer screen for too long. Today, I have dozens of pages of printed material to read and take notes on. Afterward I should hopefully be able to complete two more chapters. Then it's on with more of the same for the coming weeks...


Jeanne said...

I can really empathize with you, Ken.
You remember that I found your site purely by accident after I'd struggled to find any instances of gay hauntings and after I'd already written my book!
At least your research is in English. I've been stymied trying to delve through foreign works and lousy translations!
Keep plugging, kiddo.
Looking forward to reading the book.
BTW, as I once threatened, I'm working on the synopsis to The Sweet Flag and we're investigating more gay paranormal activity!

Cullan Hudson said...

Of course, beer was the safer drinking choice: water - especially on a ship - was often fairly dirty. While people didn't understand that microbes in the water made them sick, they knew drinking it did. So, beer and rum were often drunk instead. Sometimes, alcohol was added to the water to "purify" it, but I'm sure it just diluted the stagnant drink. Reminds me of a line from an old Bob Hope movie: "You may be a Pilgrim, but I can see your no Puritan." :-D

artsyguy said...

Hey, Ken, I'm back! Yr never far from my thoughts of course--& this entry is still another reason why. History is not pretty, it's honest. I couldn't have said it better myself! Yr example of the Pilgrims & Plymouth Rock is certainly a good case in point. It is a human weakness of ours to mythologize, demonize, or idolize, so you as a researcher certainly have a sometimes odious task to sift through the real from the mythic...sigh