Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa
“I typically go overboard when I research new projects.”
In 2000, after five years of hard work, I realized I could spend the rest of my life researching my family history and never write it down. As each rabbit trail narrowed to dust, as I pulled the final book off the shelf of Virginia counties, as my husband asked if I’d ever be done, I’d wonder, “What if?”
What if I missed some fact?
What if I found another tiny piece that opened the story up like a field in the game Minesweeper?
What if Abraham Lincoln really did carry around a piece of paper in his pocket that said, “This is the list of all my relatives, particularly my descendants leading to Michelle?”
How could I risk it?
It came to an end in the Mecca of genealogical research: The LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I spent ten hours the first day, eight the second. My husband pulled me babbling out of the stacks that last day, and I knew I had crossed the line. The research was done.
I stopped checking “one more fact” on September 1, 2000. I then finished writing the book.
The project I’m currently investigating has an overwhelming number of items to review and books to read. I have to steep myself in language, items, culture, religion and even a war. I could easily spend the rest of my life researching.
But I have other things to do and the book is begging to be written. I could let myself be bogged down in searching out one more interesting fact, but the story–the point–would never be told. There will come a time when I declare the fact-finding finished.
Of course I’ll continue to read and examine leads as they turn up. Google will remain my constant friend and fact-checker, but enough. I need to write.
Research is fun. Tools can be exasperating or thrilling. Odd facts spark the imagination. Stories intrigue and of the making of books, there is no end.
But then, of course, there’s still real life to live. You owe it to your family. 🙂
How do you know when you’ve researched enough? When do you decide you’re ready to write? What’s your favorite part of the researching process?