79988 / 90000 words. 89% done!
One of the facets of being an author that has always appealed to me is that every experience I have and every tidbit of information I learn can potentially be useful later in a story. This factoid has saved me from mind-numbing boredom in endless checkout lines (where better to study my fellow humans, pick up odd snippets of conversations, or glean details to make those secondary characters come alive?), it has made long road trips interesting (endless vistas out bug-splattered windshields are great for getting setting ideas, and great just for letting the mind wander and the muse create without pressure, too), and it has encouraged me to try experiences I might otherwise have said no to.
I've attended garden and home shows when I have neither a yard nor a house I can renovate; I've said yes to dates with men I'm not attracted to (though not lately, Cody, I promise). It's all potentially research.
The professor of my leisure and recreation class called these experiences "discovery events." He proposed filling your life with discovery events as a way to stay young at heart. I propose doing it as a way to please the muse. We could be saying the same thing.
In tandem with this idea is that I get to choose my characters' lives and decide what discovery events they pursue. Anything that sounds fun and interesting, I can toss them into the middle of, making the research fun. Sure, not every situation my characters land in are fun for them, but I enjoy researching weapons, genetic manipulation, catastrophic weather, and the proper procedures for police when dealing with kidnappers. (And I feel it necessary here to add that I'm really a very nice person. Honestly!)
But there have been many author-related research projects that I hadn't ever considered would be part of my daily routine. For instance, I didn't realize how much time I'd spend researching how to become an author. I've spent countless hours studying agent sites, publisher sites, publishing trends, publishing contracts, eBook manufacturers, and query letters. None of these are the least bit related to being a writer, but they're very important for authors.
More recently, I've been researching marketing and the various platforms that are available on the Internet. This means that I (and NON) are now on Facebook, I've learned the two-year-old vocabulary equivalent of html for coding widgets, and I'm talking with moderate intelligence with Cody using acronyms like CSS and FTP. Soon I'll be learning DreamWeaver and Photoshop and exploring WordPress.
Again, none of this has a thing to do with being a writer, but these skill have become virtually essential for a twenty-first-century author. It takes a lot of time, and I'm constantly balancing the two sides of this career choice: the fun writing/editing/world-building side and the technical researching and marketing side. All of this so that when I do sell a novel, I'm ready to make the most of it. It's daunting, but ultimately it's incredibly rewarding to be putting so much of my energy into something I love and am passionate about!