Chasing shadows. That’s what researching a historical novel can feel like at times. You go one way, then you find yourself going another. I always have a general outline in my head of how things are supposed to go, but I usually run into obstcles. It’s never write what you know, it’s write what you’re willing to find out. This is how a chapter for me went.
Scene 1: Main character is sitting in library with her fiancee after the doctor has set her wrist. Stop. Would doctor make housecalls in the 1930s? (Check my notes. Yes.) Fiancee and she are alone. Stop. What problems did courting people face? (Check my notes). They discuss why fiancee and her father were arguing. Fiancee and girl part at her bedroom door. Main character is looking at at old photos. Mention golf clubs. Stop. What clubs were available and what were they called? (Check my notes). Mentions one of the girls has a Gibson style hair style. Stop. When was this style popular? (I don’t have this in my notes. Gotta look it up. Tried Wikepida first. What do they site? Patterson, Martha H. Beyond the Gibson Girl: Reimagining the American New Woman, 1895-1915. University of Illinois Press, 2008. Check Worldcat.org to see if any of the libraries around have it. Yes/No. It’s at a close library, but I can’t check it out there. Might have to interlibrary loan this one when I get more into this character. For now it’s okay to use. Dates in title of the book work for the time period of the picture).
Scene 2: Main character is getting dressed. Stop. Clothes and make-up of a 20-something in 1920s & 1930s? (Check my notes). Breakfast. Wondering why her father is punishing himself?
Scene 3: Main character is at work in the courthouse. Stop. What does the court house look like from inside and out? What would an office look like in the 1930s? (Check my notes). Main character is a law clerk for an appellette judge. Stop. How are applette courts arranged in Iowa? Woman lawyers? What do law clerks do? What would they do in the 1930s? (Check my notes. Have stuff regarding women lawyers in the 1900-1940. Don’t have anything regarding Iowa appellette courts. Quick internet search from the agency’s website gives me what I want. Need to go deaper into what law clerks do. Found two books on law clerks from the library. Great sources, but I don’t know if a law clerk position was the same now as it was in the 1930s? Couldn’t find anything remotely close in local libraries. There was a book on Amazon. The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox. While this is about the Supreme Court in the mid thirties, the Supreme Court is still an appellte court. Should work. Should I interlibrary loan it for $1.50 or buy it for $6.00? I’m gonna take notes and only plan on using it once–interlibrary loan it. Wait two weeks for it to arrive. Have two weeks to read it. Take notes.) Character does her job. Fiancee comes and takes her out to eat. Stop. What kind of car would a young successful judge drive to show that he’s made it? (Check my notes – Packard it is). Girl sees first love and swears.
From start to finish, it took me about a month to write and research this chapter. Guess I’ve discovered one of the reasons why I’m such a slow writer 😉