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Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm serious about my research

I'm leaving today for a weekend trip to Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.  The new work-in-progress, Plunder, will be set there, and I feel like a fraud unless I make a concerted effort to familiarize myself with a book's setting before I write it.  (I feel this way even when the setting is a place I made up out of whole cloth, like the island settings of Artifacts and Findings.  In those cases, I just make a trip to the real places located nearest my imaginary locales.)

My cousin Cheryl is going with me on this adventure.  She lives in New Orleans, and she knows people with fishing camps and boats, so she has found us a place to stay and a friendly boat-owner who will take us out on the water.  I'm hoping to see some historic sites that will interest my archaeologist protagonist, Faye Longchamp, and I'm dreading the sight of oil fouling the water and shoreline.  I'm going to take a local historian to dinner and hang out at a marina or two.  And all the while, I'll be watching people go about their business and listening to them talk.

I'm not sure I'll have internet service while I'm crawling around the swamps and rivers, so it may be Monday evening before I'm able to update you on this adventure.  In the meantime, the writers among you can meditate on these writing tips:

The best writing advice I ever read was, "Apply butt to chair."  And I don't remember where I read it, so I can't attribute it, but it's not original to me.  A writer really does have to havee the discipline to sit down and churn out text, because reading and thinking and plotting and scheming, while useful, do not give a reading audience anything to read.  However, nobody can sit in that chair all the time.  The corollary to the butt-to-chair advice is that you have to get your butt off the chair and into the world sometimes, or you'll run out of things to write about.  Artists have to experience the world they are interpreting.  Don't miss your chance to see the world, then put your butt back into the chair and write about the experience.

Mary Anna


  1. Oh Anna, you'll have to let us know how the economy and tourist trade has been impacted there by the BP oil catastrophe. And be careful crawling around those swamps.

  2. Impacts? Oh, my. It's terrible.

    And I'm from Florida, so I have a healthy respect for swamps. :) I'll be fine.