Writing vs. Research

writing-vs-researchA couple of months ago, while doing dishes, an idea landed on my head. That’s what it felt like. It came out of nowhere and smacked me right on the head. The idea is about a boy named George Buchanan who becomes Earth’s ambassador to its first alien visitors. I’ve started thinking about the idea again. I’m starting to feel excited about it. Every now and then, bits of dialogue pop into my head.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know anything about aliens or space and George loves space. As his creator, I should learn about space. And aliens. I should buy books on space, learn about galaxies, make flash cards of Jupiter’s moons and start reading science fiction. All that sounds daunting, but necessary. I couldn’t possibly start writing anything until I, you know, know everything there is to know about space. This, as you can well imagine, leads to me freezing up. Instead of outlining I look on Amazon for Neil deGrasse Tyson books and see when the library closes on Saturday (five o’clock). I am afraid that some day, some astrophysicist is going to be reading the book and be disgusted at my lack of knowledge about…. I don’t even know.

It’s not practical to think I’m going to do my own mini-masters degree every book idea. I need a plan. I feel that most of my life’s problems would be solved if I had a professor sitting around my living room with various syllabi for me to work through. How great would that be? I’d explain my plan to write a book on space, she’d whip out her space syllabus complete with reading list and assignments for to be completed in three months and then BAM! Book. On the other hand, I think spending a great deal of time making a learn-everyting-about-space-plan is a way to procrastinate the actual writing while feeling smug about it.

So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll write and research. I’ll wait while you soak in this revolutionary thought.

George is very smart, but he’s only 11. This is a book about aliens coming to Earth. That means I get to make up a lot of stuff. George loves space more than anything, but between navigating around his older sister, his parents, and the President of the United States, George will spend most of the book talking about things other than space. Therefore, I don’t need to know everything about space. Or aliens. Or Presidents.

Here’s what I’ll do broken down into actual specific steps.

  1. I’ll read Welcome to the Universe. I haven’t started yet, but it’s pretty heavy. I have great faith it will tell me everything I need to know.
  2. I’ll watch Independence Day Whatever Neil deGrasse Tyson forgot to mention, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum will catch me up on.
  3. I’ll write the first draft of my book currently titled… um… Not Indepence Day.
  4. I will set the book aside for a while (I’m not falling for that again).
  5. When I read over the draft, I will notate where in the manuscript I may want to add more detail/facts/space stuff, write out specific questions and look up answers to those specific questions.
  6. Then, oh I don’t know, get millions of kids interested in space travel which launches a golden age for humanity as people work together to discover and explore instead of war and pollute which saves mankind, Earth, and gets a space station named after me.

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