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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Value of Research. IWSG - May 2016.



 It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read other members, click here.

This month, I'm going for the optional question, "What is the weirdest, coolest thing you’ve had to research for your story?"

Since I write freelance feature stories for local/regional magazines, I’ve had a lot of fun researching things I don’t know about, including the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (complete with a ghost story on George’s Island), encaustic art (which means painting with wax) and the best local places to get a batch of fried clams. Awesome, right? Well, before I wrote the fried clam story, I didn’t eat them. Now I do.

Then there’s the oyster story.  I mean raw, on the half shell. Let’s catapult back a lot of years. The first time I ate an oyster, I was in my early twenties, at a reception with my father, who plied me with gin and then escorted me to the raw bar. When I hesitated, he said, “All you do is swish it around in your mouth a few times, then swallow.” Ugh. Anyway, at his behest I slurped one down, and thank goodness for the gin, because the only way that thing was staying in my belly was via a juniper chaser. 

I never touched a raw one again, until taking an assignment to write about seafood restaurants heavy on oysters. (One of the restaurants was called "Oysters," so you can see there was no getting around it.) Truth be told, as repulsive as the bivalves are, I always wanted to like them, to the point I’ve even read books about them. Finally, about eight years ago, I started eating them fried. But the real deal means eating them au natural, if you will, and a deadline was looming. So, for the second time in my life, I slurped one down. And then two and three. Now I eat them, fried or raw (still hoping to try them barbecued), but if it weren’t for my back being against the wall because of the deadline in front of me, I’d never have tasted another. The takeaway here is that while research will make your story better, it may also enhance your life.
 
Food aside, the coolest thing I’ve researched is Second Sight, the psychic ability of those of Celtic heritage to foresee the future, including death. This plays a big part in the book I’m getting ready to query.

And, while I believe in extra-sensory perception, I promise you, that day with my Dad, I  would never have predicted I'd come to love eating oysters.

16 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Brave of you to try them again. However, I still don't think I could eat a raw oyster. Not just because they are raw, but the consistency.

Em-Musing said...

Haha...I'm with you on the oysters. It's not the taste that I don't like, but rather the slimy.The first time I slurped one down was after I lost a bet, and the deal was: no sauce, no lemon, and no chaser. Since then, I've slurped a few more but only after I've had a few beers. Can't say I'm fond of the taste, but I slurp to see if I'll ever come to love them. And interesting about the Second Sight. Now I'm curious and will have to Google that.

Jan Morrison said...

Yep, I'm not a raw oyster fan. But I appreciate your conversion! I do believe a study of the unknown either for our writing, or visual art helps us begin to see and open to our wondrous world. In Bruce Chatwin's Songlines you find out the Australian Aboriginal people wake up their world by singing to it. Really, they are waking up their own selves and taking responsibility for the natural world. Paying attention does that. Great post.

Susanne Matthews said...

I can eat oysters smoked--rather like them that way, and mussels steamed, but raw? I don't eat raw meat, fish, or seafood. No way. Brave of you to try them twice.

Nancy Gideon said...

We always had oyster stew around the holidays when I was growing up. And ewwwwww. But I learned to love them at a breakfast bar in New Orleans. Must have been them Mimosas. Alcohol definitely helps! What fun research you've done! Raging envy!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love that point about research enhancing your story and possibly your life!

I've only had oysters a few times, and I'm kind of "eh" on them.

Julie Flanders said...

That's a really cool point about research enhancing your life! I never thought about that.
I can't bear seafood in general and I don't think even a whole bottle of gin could get a raw oyster down my throat LOL.

Bish Denham said...

I've eaten raw oysters and they're okay, but any more I'm hesitant because I don't know where they're coming from and what kind of pollutants might be in them...

Good luck with your queries!

Arlee Bird said...

I love fried clams and oysters any style. They've been difficult to find in my immediate area though I know there are plenty of places in Los Angeles to get them.

Researching for articles is likely a necessity in most cases, but it also sounds fun and interesting.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Nick Wilford said...

Kudos to you for giving them another go, even if it was deadline-enforced! Funny where research can take you. I don't think I could ever eat a raw one - I imagine it to be squidgy, like a mushroom, and I can't eat anything like that. I've heard of second sight - certainly an interesting research area.

Joanne said...

you were brave for the sake of research. Oysters do not appeal to me. But our tastes do change. I was never keen on shrimp and now I do like them (with lots of remoulade sauce).

cleemckenzie said...

And I gulp down those slimy creatures whenever I can. The gin, not so much.

Connie said...

Well, you're braver than I am. Raw oysters have no appeal to me at all. It is interesting how doing research helps us learn about things we didn't even know we wanted to know about. :)

Lee Lowery said...

Smoked oysters, oyster stew, fried oysters, and oyster dressing at Thanksgiving have always been part of my "middle of the country" experience. Raw on the half shell? Only if I am on the coast and the provenance of the oysters is reliable. I am really intrigued by the psychic ability of Celts, Did not know this.

Pixel Peeper said...

Interesting how you came about to like oysters. I guess I won't ever volunteer to research oysters then. I watched a friend at a party eat them, and she showed me and explained how you have to do it. I just couldn't do it...even though I like sushi.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great story. I've never tried raw oysters and I'm not sure I could swallow it. You've very brave.