Last week, I was asked by my awesome blogging friend Jazzfeathers to participate in a blogging challenge: the Love/Hate Challenge. The only thing you have to do is write ten things you love, then ten things you hate. She did hers about writing, which you can see here. Mine will be about historical research, because I spend a lot of time doing that for this blog!
Ten Things I Love About Historical Research:
1) That feeling you get when you finally track down that elusive source you’ve dug through ten different bibliographies to find!
2) Skimming indexes and bibliographies, just because! 🙂
3) Making the Reference Department at my local library track down some obscure newspaper article from 1927 that I’d never find on my own—and making me a copy from the microfiche, too! 🙂
4) When you’re researching something else and find a new bit of really cool new info that spurs you to read up on that new thing, which leads to the next thing, and the next, and so on…
5) That cool and slightly creepy sensation you get when all the things you’ve been researching fall into place and they’re absolutely PERFECT for whatever you’re writing
6) Coming across new information that changes everything, gives you a new perspective, and forces you to reexamine everything else you’ve read—but in a good way. 🙂
7) Looking at all the articles for a single year in the Chicago Tribune archives: it’s like going back in time! 😉
8) Using the ILL department of my home library, since they’re so nice about getting obscure stuff for me from all over the country. Thanks to all the other ILL departments out there for sending things, too!
9) When I finish the last book in my giant reference pile! 🙂
10) Leafing through a primary source book from the 1800s/1900s that’s in gorgeous condition, with original bookplates and photos and everything…
Ten Things I Hate About Historical Research:
1) Using and trusting Source A for a while, only to find out from Source B, C, and D that Source A is considered a pack of lies and no one should ever use it for anything ever.
2) That feeling you get when you finally track down that elusive source you’ve dug through ten different bibliographies to find…only to discover it wasn’t worth reading at all! :p
3) The book you put on hold at the library via ILL and waited a month to get, only to discover it’s not what you thought it was…
4) Having to return a great source to the library when you still really really really need it! 😉
5) When you remember this cool bit of info you read somewhere and really, really want to use it in your book/blog, but you can’t find it anywhere!
6) When you really, really need that one tiny piece of obscure information for whatever you’re writing, such as how much a cup of coffee cost in 1927, but you can’t find it anywhere…
7) When all your sources refer to this one other source, but you can’t find it anywhere—or you do, but it’s in some language you can’t read and the only copy in the entire world is in some tiny library in Holland that will never send their copy to you ever (this happened to me a LOT back when I was writing my Ancient Egyptian YA book…)
8) Trying to understand a difficult primary source. Was that line about cats considered a joke at the time, or is it meant to be taken seriously? and so on. Sometimes the past really *is* a foreign country…
9) Reading ten books on one subject and learning nothing new—because they’re just referencing one another’s work!
10) Microfiche. No. Just, no.
What about all of you? What do you love—or hate—about historical research? Please share in the Comments below! 🙂