Obsession is a writer’s way. We are hard-wired for it, to collect details and study a subject with great intensity, like a four year old who memorizes all the names of all the dinosaurs in all the ages and can recite their diets and sizes and probable colors for hours if you let him. (And if you let him, you will be his friend for LIFE.)
That does not always mean it’s comfortable. I have been crazy in love with the ancient Irish and the Black Death and Titanic, with weaving and dyeing, with Faulkner and England and faeries and crop circles and tornados…well, a zillion other things that drove my family and friends crazy. With time, you learn to cover your tracks a bit, cover the twitch, the green glimmer of the eye.
The thing is, you can’t help it. You don’t say to yourself, “hmm, I think I’ll find out absolutely every single thing I can about black soldiers in World War II, and meanwhile learn 12 billion details about the landing at Normandy, and then drive everyone crazy for six months reciting all the facts I’ve discovered until they wave their hands if anyone so much as mentions 1944 or Jim Crow or Dachau.” Don’t get her started!
No, it happens because your brain is ripe for a seed. You find out that we fought Hitler with a segregated freaking Army and your brain says, “WHAT? That’s IMPOSSIBLE!” And you’re off. [Read more…]