Research Trips

This whole idea of research is new to me. I was an English major. The most I had to do to research a paper was to go to the OED and look up the root of a word so I could figure out what it meant in Shakespeare’s sonnets. As a poet, my research trips mostly consisted of trips to the local library to read up on some obscure subject; then I would take a few words from the book and put them in a poem. Voila, done.

Evidently this is not how nonfiction books are written. I am going to California to visit relatives in order to interview them. I bought a voice recorder in anticipation. I got the main victim, er, subject, to agree. I have a couple places to stay. A cousin has promised me fish tacos. I looked up a train schedule. Holy shit, this is real.

Now I have to come up with interview questions. I need to know enough to ask intelligent questions. I need to anticipate what I’m going to write about so that I can come up with the right questions. I need to take myself seriously so others can take me seriously. I need to work up the nerve to print out some work to show said relatives.

What am I forgetting? How do you prepare?


4 responses to “Research Trips

  1. Prepare? What is this word?

    I think you’re forgetting the alcohol. Nothing loosens up a stilted conversation like a glass of wine. (Or beer, with the fish tacos.)

  2. I did this a few years ago. I used the “Garage Band” program on my Mac so it’s saved as a file. It took me a day to figure out how to voice record only, but it worked great.

    I also bought a couple of books with lists of questions to ask relatives about family history. This helped me feel more prepared and not waste time. I went off the rails and asked many other kinds of questions as we went on, but having standard questions as a backup helped.

    Good luck!

  3. Pingback: Copyeditor, Heal Thyself | Fangs and Clause

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