It’s the Data, Stupid!

The coolest thing about being a non-fiction writer is all the research I get to do. I love being a lifetime learner; it’s like I’m getting paid to grow a little smarter every day.

When I’ve done my research, when I’m confident of my facts and my references, and the story has revealed itself to me, the words come easy. If they come grudgingly, or not at all, it’s a signal that I have to go back to the library, or the museum, or archives, and figure out the missing pieces. My notes are sprinkled with questions I need to find answers to: What if this were the case? What would account for the timing here? What did these people do, and how did they do it, and would they have done it under these particular circumstances, and most importantly, how can I figure out what those circumstances were? It’s like detective work, only without the dead bodies and wisecracking medical examiners.

It’s storytelling about what is, not about what should be, and that’s a powerful thing.

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