Go Ask Alice

Part of doing the job that I do requires, if not obsession per se, then at least obsessive thinking, I suspect. It’s not enough to simply have a casual interest in a topic if you’re going to write about it in any kind of depth, you have to have a level of curiosity that goes far beyond the norm.

(This isn’t the case when it comes to, say, short news pieces or project announcements; in those circumstances, you can pretty much get away with saying simply here are the facts and moving on quickly. In fact, in some cases, having too much curiosity can get in the way of writing those pieces, not least because you end up asking questions that can’t be answered, or at least not easily.)

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I start researching a potential future project — one I really hope will come off, but right now only exists as a potential, exciting, future maybe something — and find myself utterly absorbed by it, looking up various avenues to finding out more information and spending hours going down rabbit holes that aren’t even the research I need as much as the research necessary to get to what I need.

I spent an hour or so this morning looking for sources for a couple of particular pieces of information that I think are likely out there and necessary for what I want, only to end up on eBay looking to see if I could find cheap and/or remaindered versions of a book I read more than a decade ago that my brain told me might have something I need in there. I’ve pulled books that I haven’t looked at in years out of shelves in the hope that, perhaps, there’s something to be found in there, too. And don’t start me on the magazines I feel like I need to look for.

All of this, again, isn’t really the research I need as much as the beginning of searching for that research. But it’s already overwhelmed me, in the most exciting way. I’m on the hunt.

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