When I decided hey, I’m gonna write a book, I had no idea the amount of research that would be involved. Researching. Writing. Sitting around eating Jiffy Pop helps me keep it real. It’s all part of the deal I made when I set out on this adventure. One leads to another, Sunday melts into Monday, and shockingly it’s March. A year later. And I’m still working on “my book”. What began as memoir has morphed into fiction and taken me on a path I never imagined, even though I’m the person doing the imagining. Crazy how that works.
The setting for my story is part of me. The place I grew up during the time I grew up. 1972. And even though I lived that time and place, research is a big part of my project. Making sure I have the description, sound, smell, feel of a specific place or object accurate for 1972, that’s imperative. I want my readers to see through my eyes. Feel what I feel. Taste the Jiffy Pop.
Mark Twain said Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream. That’s what I’m trying to do. Letting the old lady to scream takes work and time and research and remembering.
A sample of the things I’ve researched the last few days: Watergate, Chinese finger trap, phases of the moon in 1972, Memphis cotton trade, Mark Spitz. Just your regular, run-of-the-mill, 1970s stuff.
Sometimes I listen to seventies music while I write. Sonny & Cher. Tony Orlando and Dawn. Marvin Gaye. Yes I do. That takes me back to my groovy cassette player as quickly as anything. (I loved that thing. I hated that thing. It ate more tape than it ever played.)
Saturday I even made Jiffy Pop. Jiffy Pop was a weekend tradition at our house. Shaking that pan over the flame, hearing the kernels sizzle, then seeing the foil expand like a balloon (more quickly than I remembered) made that memory as real as it could be forty years later, plus it was a fun snow day activity.
Now, back to writing. If anyone needs me, knock three times on the ceiling, but only if you’re bleeding (to quote my friend Laurie Reichart).
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Knock Three Times, Tony Orlando with Jimmy Fallon & Will Forte (sorry Dawn)
“The challenge of the writer is to transform—artistically and imaginatively—a unique personal experience into a universal, meaningful story.”
― Hillel F. Damron