I am a fairly outgoing person—at least in situations where I’ve had time to prepare for being social and can make sure I’m “on.” I am, however, a bit of a phone phobe, even when someone else is calling me, let alone when I—gasp—have to be the one making the call. And I hate feeling like I’m intruding on someone by just showing up to talk business or whatever (it’s a good thing most of my work comes to me, isn’t it? Gah.).
Yet what did I find myself doing yesterday? Dropping in unannounced on various people I’ve never met before to confirm some facts/flesh out details that I need for my novel. The biggest surprise? Well, it’s three-fold actually. 1) I wasn’t even scared! Perhaps I’m too excited about how the writing’s going to feel intimidated. Or perhaps all the work I do with my business now, for people who are initially strangers, is helping me come out of my shell with my fiction too. 2) The people I talked to were not only helpful and informative, they seemed excited about talking to me. 3) My gut-writing was on the right track—there’s very little I have to change in the chapters I was investigating for, so that’s awesome. Maybe my subconscious knows things I don’t. (Ha! No maybes about it.)
Fact checking may be considered the least inspiration-based aspect of fiction writing, but it got my muse all fired up. “You’re getting so close,” he hollered. “People are interested in your storyline—what they’ve heard of it anyway.” I know my innards will be jelly when I try to track down a friendly RCMP member to give me some inside information on procedures and policies, but yesterday’s experience will help with that too. I managed to be coherent, even interesting—and no one seemed to think my questions were stupid (my biggest fear!).
So yes, kudos to cold calling for facts to feed fiction. Whoever gave the stellar advice to “do something that scares you everyday” was really onto something. It’s very invigorating and affirming.