[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
Hello All, Melanie here!
Research is a critical part of writing any novel. While what every novel requires for research is a little different, there does seem to be a law of diminishing returns when it comes to just how much of it you should do.
If writing your latest novel requires that you start a new business online or go back to school for carpentry, you might be crossing that line and falling into a research hole.
But what do I know?
I can’t say much more. I need to finish researching the mating habits of stormcrows for this sentence that I’m working on. Without further ado…
Subject: Bodies in the back yard
I’msure yuo haev been wondering where mny latest pages are for my new novel. Well, I avve been hard at work!!!! It’s very hard to write you this email right now thanks to all the blisters on my hands from writgn so i’m going to keep this hsort.
The course f this past week has definitely shown me just how much I’ve grown as a writer!!! I am on a hole new level. I am taking this book fery seriously and am using new found skills to write the worlds next big epic fantasy novel. While I still don’t know what the worlds next big epic fantasy novel is about, I do know that it is going to be amazing!!!!
Anywhistle, on an unrelated note, I wanted to pick your brain about some bodies I found in my back yard this morning. They were about six feet deep in the backuard and so far it looks like there might only be five or sixx of them so not a big deal. They’re surprisingly not decomposed even though it looks like they’ve been laying there for a long time and thank heavens because I ran out of glade air fresheners trying to deodorize my basement after all the flooding this week!!!
Do you think I’ll need to cut them up into smaller pieces to get them out or would it be faster to use a winch?
Well, my phone is ringing. That’s Tryxy. I’ve been giving him driving lessons and he’s going to come take me to the druggist so I can get some numbing cream for this bissters!!!! Everything is totally normal again, Gladys!!!!
TTYL (Tahat means talk to you later”
Subject: Another body in the back yard!!!!!
I really should just go on another writing retreat but then where would I put all my shovels????
Now that I have numbing cream and gauze on my hands, it’s a bit easier for me to tell you about my latest novel even though this neighborhood is conspiring to keep me from writing it!!! They’re all afraid of greatness, Gladys!!!
One thing I have learned from writing is that you need to stick closely to your vision and that is DEFINITELY what I’m doing. My boyfriend Tod Boadkins isn’t the only person who knows how to research a novel!!! I talked to him the other day and told him that I’m having trouble getting started with my latest masterpiece and you know what he said? He quoted Mark Twain at me!!!
Tod Boadkins said that Mark Twain said that you should “write what you know” and that maybe I shouldn’t start with an epic fantasy and instead write something that’s “a little closer to home” and that’s when I broke it to him that I was already miles ahead of him!!!!!
I AM DOING RESEARCH AND IT IS VERY CLOSE TO HOME. In fact, it is in my backyard. You see Gladys, I am sticking very very closely to my vision and right now I have had exactly one vision for this entire story so I’d better make it work!!!!! I have seen my new character standing in her medievally house but the details aren’t very clear. So in order to write the first paragraph for my latest epic fantasy novel, I need to know a LOT more about medievally houses and what better way to learn about medieval houses than to BUILD ONE????
Hang on, Gladys, that’s the guy delivering all my thatch.
Okay, I’m back. I was going to write you about all the progress I’ve made in my newest story but it would seem that life on Horn Hill is up to its usual drama!!!! I should have known it and maybe I should have opened the email with this so let’s just rewind and pretend that I have.
Anyhonk, just as Tryxy and I finished at the druggist and went to Otto Maxwell’s house. DIdn’t you used to have a crush on Otto Maxwell when we were in the fifth grade??? Too bad that never worked out, he can’t ever seem to get someone to settle down with him. All of his spouses keep disappearing. Anyways after we left the druggist we went to Otto Maxwell’s house to congratulate him on his latest marriage and borrow a winch that he didn’t have available because he was using it to hoist his emergency supply of quick lime off of his roof to use for urgent reasons he refused to disclose. That’s okay because it was a great opportunity to continue with Tryxy’s driving lessons and it was time to teach him how to use the brakes which he seems to have a little problem with. BUT just after Tryxy ran eight red lights and turned our car invisible to give the police the slip, I got home fresh and ready to take my hatchet and cut up those bodies into smaller pieces so that I could move them and get on with my writing.
AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED???
Tod Boadkins just texted me to warn me about the perils of writers falling down into research holes!!!!! HOW DID HE KNOW GLADYS????? That means that my neighbors are spying on me again because I definitely did NOT tell Tod Boadkins about the giant hole I’ve been digging in my backyard!!!!!
And do you know what else happened even though it’s not as important???
There was another body in my backyard!!!!! The audacity, Gladys!!!! I’m a writer and I should have the exclusive right to fall into my own research hole first but NO, the neighbor who has all the chickens has wandered into my backyard and has fallen into my research hole. I forget his name but I just call him Johnny Chicken. I’m sure it’s better than whatever he was called before.
Not to worry, he’s still somewhat conscious but what I would like to know is where the other five or six bodies I found just a little while ago walked off to!!!!!
But that’s not where the REAL DRAMA is Gladys!!! Do you know what was waiting for me before I found the NEW body in my backyard??
The mailman. And then the mailman gave me about three hundred flyers full of libertarians for congress, OLED television sales from the local rent-to-own place, and coupons for frozen jalapeño poppers and tide pods and do you know what else?
A LETTER FROM THE HOA!!!!
I know that, like me, you are very sane and practical and so I don’t have to explain just how much the HOA are HATERS. They have written me because they are trying to stop me from becoming the next big epic fantasy writer of all time. I have been diligently writing in my backyard and by writing I mean digging and they are small-minded people who don’t like us creative types!!!! They told me that they were reporting my illegal construction project to the town and that if I didn’t fill in my research hole right away that I would be fined $300 per day!!!!
DO YOU SEE WHAT I HAVE TO DEAL WITH HERE GLADYS???? IT’S A PERFECTLY SAFE HOLE. And besides, once I get the medieval house erected and sleep in it for a few nights, I will be an expert in medieval houses and hence be able to write the opening paragraph of my newest novel. And I won’t have to worry about whether not it’s good or whether or not it’s a real story because the stuff that’s in the story will be SO ACCURATE that no one can say that it’s bad writing!!!!
Anypigglet, I should let you know what other things are going on. Tryxy is still deciding on a major at Miskatonic’s Online Degree program. It’s exciting to see my BFF grow as a person and discover himself. I totally thought that he would go for the Discordant Music of Insanity as a major, but currently he’s thinking deeply about majoring in arcane tupperware design. He’s learned a lot about the arcane tupperware design industry and we’ve watched lots of YouTube videos. Did you know that when you trap souls in jars and rocks or in rare gems that the souls eventually become limp and flavorless?? Arcane tupperware is a growing industry that is making an airtight case for freshness.
OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Johnny Chicken has started calling for help.
Be right back.
Okay, I’m back but it’s worse. It turns out that when Tryxy made the car invisible, he also made ME invisible so when I went back to ask Johnny Chicken why he had been trespassing in my research hole he started screaming and passed out again.
However, it turns out he’s not the only person who has fallen in my research hole!!!! Two people from the HOA are in there and they are FURIOUS. They’re angrily snapping pictures with their iPhones and telling me that the town is coming tear down any illegally constructed shed I’m making and that they’re going to call my home owner’s insurance and have them drop me if I don’t get the hole filled in.
And I still have no idea where the other bodies went!!
Gotta go, Gladys!!!
P.S. Hmmm. I guess it now makes sense why the mailman had the reaction that he did when I took the mail.
Subject: HAND THROWN POTTERY
Perhaps you think that with my research hole filled in and my hopes of erecting a medievally house in my backyard having been dashed against the manicured lawns of the HOA Overlords that I would be feeling very down about the progress of my novel.
Well I am NOT!!!!
While I may not be able to write accurately about the smell of thatch first thing in the morning after it’s rained or the kinds of splinters a fifteenth century doorframe is likely to give off, I have decided to focus my research on others things. For example, I can always focus on the kinds of things my new character has IN her medievally house.
Which is why I’m waiting here for the delivery truck to drop off my new kiln. After my 500 pounds of kaolin clay are delivered all that remains is that I open up my etsy shop to sell my new writing wares!!!!
Tod Boadkins tried to warn me about getting swallowed up in a research hole that keeps you from actually getting words written, but now that my research hole is filled in, it just proves ONCE AGAIN that Tod Boadkins doesn’t know as much about writing as he thinks he does!!!!
Pottery doesn’t have holes.
After this, it’s medieval bed making!
Oh! That’s my kiln!!!
Gotta go, Gladys!!! New pages next week!!!
P.S. Have you happened to see about five or six seven foot tall people with pewter skin walking around the neighborhood??? I think one of them stole my good shovel!!!!
Most people, if they wanted to write about an epic battle, would just read up on, I don’t know, the siege of Vienna or something, and that’s just why Writer X is destined to be famous someday.
Thanks for making such a nice hole for me to fall down into, Jim! I now know a considerable amount more than I knew about the siege of Vienna three hours ago. 😀
Yeah, it’s got everything. A walled city desperately holding out against a vast foreign army, rescuing armies arriving at the very last minute from opposite sides of the battlefield, a cavalry charge after finding the way through a forest. Good stuff!