Sunday, February 26, 2006

Guilty Pleasures, part II

I feel like I'm writing one of those multi-part movie events -- Matrix 1, Matrix 2, you know the sort. Or, in my case, maybe Code of the West XVII. Boggles the mind, really.

But getting back to G.U.I.L.T -- I think that maybe googling -- and all that that entails -- has become a guilty pleasure for me.

It's not that I grew up as one of those kids who read the encyclopedia for pleasure. Indeed, my eyes glaze over when I am faced with encyclopedias. There is all that print. But google breaks things up. It allows me the thrill of The Hunt. I go in with a word or a phrase about which I may know little or nothing -- and by the time I come out, I have Knowledge! Well, maybe not vast amounts of knowledge, but a smattering. Enough to get by. For the moment, anyway.

Chota Nagpur is a case in point. Two weeks ago I didn't know Chota Nagpur existed. Then a fellow researcher in Australia told me that a brother of my great-grandmother died there. He was, I surmised, a miner. Cornish miners are likely to turn up anywhere. But this was the first one I had followed to India. So I began to look up Chota Nagpur. Within an hour I had learned its whereabouts (LOVE Google Earth!), a bit of the metallurgical history of the area (yes, it is a mining region), and that some man named Francis Bradley Bradley-Birt wrote a book about the area.

I went on a long google expedition about Francis Bradley Bradley-Birt (how could I not with a name like that?) and discovered that Mr Bradley-Birt wrote a great many books about a great many places, lived in most of them and must have had a heck of an interesting life before he went home to England and, in 1920, married one of Winston Churchill's first cousins.

From GG-uncle Tom to Winston Churchill via India in six short steps. Amazing.

Googling is sort of like the Kevin Bacon game of Six Degrees of Separation. Makes me wonder if I could have got to Kevin as quickly as I got to Winston by simply picking out a different fact to follow. Probably. Life is weird that way.

So is writing. Which is what I suppose I should be talking about here.

Because sometimes googling is really "work." It's googling that often provides the key bit of information that clicks with something in my brain and makes me go, "Uh-huh!" and then I know I've found another bit of the book. How does it happen? What triggers the 'uh-huh?" I haven't a clue really. I just know it works. And I hope it kicks in soon, because I'm going to have to finish up my revisions on Theo in the next week or so and then move on to the next guy -- who could use some "uh-huh" moments to flesh out his life.

I tagged the authors who participate in the Harlequin Presents site, inviting them all to admit to their guilty pleasures. It's had quite a response so far -- and Shelley, our webmistress, will be posting them around the 1st of March. Do drop by and visit the monthly feature there and see what all your favorite authors do when they should be working!

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