You know those slightly annoying, yet crazy fun time-waster quizzes that pop up on Facebook, ones like “what color is your aura” and “what animal were you in a past life?” Of course you do–you’ve guiltily clicked on them while looking over your shoulder to make sure no one was watching, completed the quiz and learned that, lo and behold you were a fun-loving optimistic dolphin in a previous lifetime and your aura is yellow, because you’re so freaking optimistic how could it be any other color but that of the blazing sun.
Have you come across the quiz entitled, “What Emotion Drives YOU?” I write this with a slight distaste and shrug only because shouldn’t we inherently know what drives us? Ah, the conumdrum.
So, I completed the 10 questions and the result: curiosity. Yep, I am driven by intrigue. I knew that. What writer isn’t? What psychologist isn’t? I write because I am curious. I study human behavior because I find it fascinating. And when one combines the two—human behavior and curiosity—an amazing thing happens in literature: your characters come alive. Writing is a means to explore all of those questions, moments of intrigue, and things you want to reach further into your psyche for.
Many folks will say that to be a writer, one must know a lot of things. That might be true to a certain extent. Being a writer doesn’t mean I have all of the inner workings of the human mind tightly locked into my brain or that I am particularly astute at human behavior, it just means that I observe it like nobody’s business. And it also means that if there is something I don’t understand 100%, I will look it up. In today’s standards, it is so much easier to be a curious writer than in days past. We have this lovely thing called the Internet.
I don’t know much about Victorian-era brothels. So, I turn to my good friend, Google for some answers. I really don’t know squat about college fraternities, either. But my trusted cohort of Facebook friends know a few things….or they can point me in the right direction for a little more. And how about single-occupant freak car accidents and the Mob in St.Louis? Was there a mob in St. Louis? Well, I am going to find out. And yeah…what about that older-than-dirt building that sits on the corner of Cherry and 9th Streets in Columbia, Missouri? (I do know it’s the oldest standing building in the college town, built in 1837 and once scheduled for demolishment in 2012—alas it has been saved).
I am a whopping 14,000 words into this novel and that’s pretty darn good considering I just finished the “other one” on Labor Day. But now, I feel a little stuck. La-di-da…I’m sort of sitting her twiddling my thumbs and thinking of a post-Thanksgiving retreat to my old college town in my home state of Missouri. You know, a little research.
The Tiger Hotel is supposedly haunted. And historic. Maybe I should book a room? Of course, there’s got to be a trip to the State Historical Society located at Ellis Library where I can look at old plat maps of Columbia in the late 1800s. I’ll do a few frat house drive-by, too. And while I am out that way, I just may swing into the rolling bluffs of Rocheport for a little winery action. Nah—scratch the Tiger Hotel, I’ll stay at the welcoming Yates House B&B where the food is mighty delicious. I’ll roll up my sleeves and do a little writing…and ghost hunting…and reminiscing with my hubby, who also knows a thing or two about MU
And in the meantime, I will continue to poke around on various websites and read some books, and look at old Savitar images on-line and re-read my Mizzou Alumni Magazine hoping for a little shove in the right (write) direction…because, you know…inquiring minds want to know.
[image of niedermeyer builing retrieved from law.missouri.edu on 10.22.14]