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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.