As a writer I’m on-line more than I’m asleep. Heck, sometimes I use the internet while I’m asleep. My internet time is like dust particles in the air I breath. Without it there wouldn’t be any creative mucous buildup, and therefore nothing spectacular to blow out on the page.
I can’t imagine turning back the clock to a time where I’d have to travel far and wide, accessing specialized libraries, to find the minutia I need to make my fictional worlds pop with that certain air of better-than-real-reality. And I’m immensely grateful for the wonder of the world wide web.
But there is a dark side to being a Google-dependent writer. Namely, the FBI watch list. Mind you, no flak-jacket-wearing, 9mm-bristling SWAT team has burst through my door yet. But I dread the day. Why, you may ask, am I so worried about our cherished Federal Bureau of Investigations conducting a raid on my humble office?
In a standard day of research my Google searches may include such items as these (all actual search terms I’ve used):
- how to make carbide bomb
- how to dry and cure marijuana
- treating colic in goats
- American Anarchism
- Reefer madness
- difference between TNT and dynamite
- explosive yield for dynamite
- Ku Klux Klan in Texas
- surviving zombie apocalypse
- Lethal dose of muscle relaxant
- history of flamethrower
I could keep going, but I’ve probably already alerted a dozen government agencies to flag this post. While I realize not every writer has such a bizarre and potentially-threatening-to-Uncle-Sam list of research topics, I’m sure others could provide even stranger lists. In the case of my books, I guarantee you real life is not stranger than fiction. But to maintain that high level of sensationalism, I have to research some of the stranger, dirtier and uglier aspects of real life. (Tomorrow’s task is to figure out how to devise a feasible 1920’s weapon that causes people to combust into human firebombs, but don’t blame me. Sure, I created Oleg Rodchenko’s character, but he’s the evil mastermind.)
So what can a writer do to stay sane and out of a federal detention center while researching for his or her next novel? My answers may not work for everyone, but here they are:
1.) Write books that upon closer inspection are so farcical that you’re laughing about it over beers with your arresting officers after they release you.
2.) Do half of your searches from your spouse’s computer, or better yet, from a public library.
3.) Sprinkle searches like, “patriotic songs” and “how to bless U.S. troops” throughout the day.
4.) Pay your taxes and put in some candy mints for good measure.
5.) and finally, it doesn’t hurt to drink and watch the Simpsons a lot. [divider]
If you’re still reading at this point, maybe you could help out with my “get out of jail fund” by snagging a copy of Fistful of Reefer from your local ebook distributer for a meager $2.99! And God Bless America!