Life Is Research

Susan Lute

Currently working on: A short contemporary romance proposal for Silhouette and a non-fiction book about my garden. Soon to start a contemporary single title romance.

Mood: pleased.

When I first realized we’d be talking about research, the first thing I thought was, “I don’t do internet research! How will I speak intelligently about that?” Okay yes, that’s a hint of panic you’re reading in my words.

My favorite research is to watch and listen to people. I was raised in a military family and I’ve traveled a lot. And, I’m a Nurse. So, when I tell a story, I write about the things I know. Usually, it’s a tribal story about being part of the human family. The women’s fiction novel I just finished is about a doctor who’s faced with a medical condition that could take away the career she loves. At the same time her family is falling apart around her. The proposal for Silhouette is about a Marine who’s on a collision course with a discharge she doesn’t want. The last thing she sees herself as is a civilian. It’s set in the high desert country of Oregon (where I regularly visit). The garden book is about grief and loss and well, set in my garden.

Research, yes I’m getting to that. I love books. New ones, and especially old ones. Specifically, books about pre-recorded history. If I’d been a cave dweller, I would be the one drawing my tribe’s story on the walls. So, when I need to do research, the first thing I do, is get books, many of them, from the library and/or the book store, doesn’t matter, except I love to keep my research books too. I put sticky notes on the pages that interest me. I horde them. I have many books about London, believe me (acquired for my first women’s fiction which is set in London), laying around, tempting me to open them and disappear into the magic of that city. Been there, so I still have a visceral memory that calls to me.

More research? Okay, then I talk to the Marines in my family, the medical providers I work with, I take photographs in my garden. Sometimes, I talk to my soul. And, on very rare occasions when I have no other recourse, I get on the net to find the specific information I want, like the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. To be honest – I’d rather be out in my garden taking pictures.


Life Is Research — 7 Comments

  1. “Life is research.” What a great title, Su!

    You’re working on some exciting projects! I’m going to tackle a nonfiction book also, but it will revolve around life with my herd of doggies. No big surprise there. 🙂

    Using different avenues for research simply add to the fun–in person, talking to experts and family, new and old books, travel.

    It sounds like you only do research on the Internet when you’ve exhausted every other option — or for obscure foreign conditions. What the heck is “cervical spondylotic myelopathy”? Or maybe I don’t want to know. LOL!

  2. Thanks Genene. CSM is compression of the spinal cord in the upper spine, or cervical stenosis. Not a fun condition, and of course there are different degrees of symptoms and treatment.

    I think your non-fiction book about your dogs sounds wonderful. I’m sure you’ll have a great time writing it 🙂

  3. I think your real-time research makes sense. It’s efficient (no time wasted on info you don’t need) and practical (seeing how people really are vs. how they sound in writing). And yet you still keep just enough bookly temptation lying around to get those little serendipitous nuggets of research that can sparkle in a manuscript. Leads to good places.

    The Marine story sounds intriguing. Nothing worse than being forced to confront and alter our worldview.

  4. So true, Su! Life really is research. Even when writing about bizarre, fantastical worlds, I still have to call on real life situations to make my stories come alive.

    You love to garden, huh? My husband does, too. We live in the high desert and both our back and front yards are incredible, thanks to my dh. I love flowers, but don’t know beans about growing them, so that’s dh’s job. 8^)

  5. Gardening is a fav of mine, though right now I couldn’t tell you why, since I have a whole acre to tame 🙂 Just finished the newest proposal, so I should make some headway.

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