I know, what an odd thing to be thinking about. I remember when I was a youngster, and a budding author wannabe, I adored my family’s encyclopedia set. The pages were thumb worn from how often I’d skim over them, looking for something or another. I loved research. The more I wrote, the more I needed to research and learn. I’d peruse the school library to scour every resource I could for my latest topic. Dewey Decimal was my friend. I was as familiar with card catalogues as some people were of sport scores.
card catalogue at the Library of Congress
It was a cornucopia of goodness when I became a librarian’s aide in my junior year (or somewhere in those latter high school years) I had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips! Or so it seemed.
Then came the advent of computers–everywhere. We had this neat butler called Jeeves and we could ask him just about anything and he’d scurry off to find the answer. Before that there was something called Infoseek, though I only used it a few times before Jeeves. They each made researching in a library or book for that matter, almost obsolete. Librarians everywhere surely mourned.
I’m not sure what happened to ole Jeeves, maybe he retired, but now we have Google. And I must admit, for a Luddite, I have become fascinated at how endless Google seems. I can ask it anything, and so far it has never failed to instantly show me a list of items fairly close to what I was looking for.
For example, not long ago I was writing a scene in which the hero mowed the heroine’s lawn. She came home and discovered what a sweet guy he was. Trouble is, while I’ve always heard fresh mown grass smells good, I’ve never experienced it. (Google anosmia) So off I dashed to google “How does cut grass smell?”. Darn if I didn’t get at least a few descriptions I could use to describe the scene. Pretty cool.
And more recently I was working on a scene in which another hero kisses the heroine. He sports this full beard and mustache. Now, admittedly, it’s been more than a decade since I’ve kissed a man with facial hair, and I’ve kind of forgotten the details of how it feels. Not having a suitable model about to try kissing, I headed over to Google and typed in my query. Well, sure enough, instant answers. Not the greatest but sufficient to give me some words for the heroine to use to describe what she is experiencing.
It seems weekly I am dashing over to Google to inquire about some random thought for a book. I research locations, occupations, house plans, and so much more. And it’s so quick and easy, no need to rifle through card catalogues, prowl aisles and racks of books, and lug stacks of books and notes home to compile all in the name of research.
Now I google, and then save or copy and paste. I can print it for the hard folder or drop it to a virtual folder, depending on what it is.
I sure miss my old encyclopedia set though, and wonder if anyone ever saw this day coming. Maybe Jeeves did.