“It’s fiction, for God’s sake, Bonnie! If you want it to snow, let it snow.”
It may be a mistake to tell friends and family what I’m doing – attempting to write something people will read and enjoy – but I do anyway. Perhaps it’s a way of holding myself accountable. If you tell enough people you’re writing a novel, maybe you’ll believe it yourself and actually write!
Over hors d’oeuvres and drinks, I shared with Sue and Laurie the research I’d done to get a visual on what my dad, Webb Bateman, was seeing as he drove from Nebraska to North Dakota. “Phebe, in my writer’s group, pointed out I could check the weather for March 1939 to make sure it was snowing,” I explained. “Sounded like a good idea to me, so I did. Cost me $20 to subscribe to a reliable site (weathersource.com/past-weather/weather-history-reports), but I actually verified Dad worked in a blizzard on March 4, 1939 in Ogallala, Nebraska, as he indicated in a letter. But then I found out the snow melted and it was fairly mild. So I changed my story to get rid of snow as he drove north.”
Sue, who is an avid reader, just shook her head. I tried to reassure her I wasn’t going to recite the high, low and median temperatures for every day of the trip. “It’s just a method to get me in the moment. Besides, Sue, my brain game, Lumosity, indicates I should have been a researcher or scientist or something like that.” She knows my analytical side well, having worked with me for twenty years before we both retired. Nonetheless, her head wagged back and forth again.
Google and I have become very good friends which doesn’t say much for my social life. One of the searches helped me with the typography of Wyoming. “Would my dad have to shift down in a 1930 Chevy Sedan, if he were going from 3000 to 6000 elevation in 17 miles?” I asked my husband, Scott. He also looked at me in disbelief.
The research in and of itself hasn’t always been riveting, but it’s helped my comfort level in writing description. On the other hand, I’ve found information I’m not sure my 80 year old relatives would approve of. Lyrics from “Dirty Songs of the Twenties and Thirties” are real eyebrow raisers. Then again, Who am I kidding? My relatives probably helped write them.
Yup, I’m hooked on research and for now, there may be snow on my roof, but not on my roads.