I love the Internet. I love being able to do research and find odd bits of facts without ever having to leave the house. (Not that leaving the house is unpleasant – in fact, I’m sure that by this time next week, I’ll be wild to leave the house – I’m just saying it’s awfully convenient not to HAVE to leave the house.)
I recently read Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, who is also the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife. I really love both books and became fascinated by the setting of Her Fearful Symmetry, which is Highgate Cemetery, just outside of London. Google allowed me to find this article about the author and her experiences at Highgate, where she eventually became so well-informed about the cemetery’s history and eminent residents, that she became a part-time tour guide.
Think about it. She’s a woman from Chicago, who started out as a graphic artist (more on that later) and wrote illustrated stories until she wrote a story too complicated to illustrate so she turned it into a novel, then wrote another novel set in a cemetery, a particularly gothic and atmospheric cemetery, traveled to London to do research at the cemetery and began hanging out there, becoming an expert and giving tours. Don’t you just love it? I do. I love thinking about her getting so hooked and passionate that she just couldn’t stay away. Research is one of my favorite parts of writing, having the mandate, you might say, to absolutely spend time going down the rabbit’s hole in studying something, to the point where you might just be a little nuts about it. Niffenegger has simply been able to carry it a little further than most.
When I was researching the life of a ballerina, in order to write Every Little Step She Takes, I spent hours watching Swan Lake over and over, watching other video’s about dancers’ lives, and reading about technique, practice routines and dance moves. I wallowed in ballet, which I suppose is an oxymoron, but as I have never been a dancer, it was the closest I could come. At any rate, my point is I love it when someone is completely passionate about their work.
Ms. Niffenegger, as I mentioned, began as a graphic artist, and some of her work is on display at her website. I found out she has also written a couple of graphic novels, one of which, The Night Bookmobile, was published as a serial in The Guardian. You can read the whole thing here. It’s an intriguing story and the artwork is fascinating. If you’re a book nut, you’ll really want to check it out. The link leads you to the final pages of the book; you have to go to the oldest entry to get to the beginning and work backward. It’s worthwhile.
Question: Are you passionate about your work? Is there something that quite transports you with delight? What is it?