Sunday, December 18, 2011

My worst Christmas gift ever...

...and how I wish I still had it.

I will admit - I don't remember all the details, but the emotions are crystal-clear.

I was 12 or 13 and my aunt decided the perfect Christmas gift for me was a book on spiders. Now, I'm quite the arachnophobic. I was stunned that she could think this was a good idea, but I soldiered on and tried to enjoy it. But I couldn't turn the pages properly - I was scared of even touching a picture of a spider. Particularly a big hairy one...

So the book went onto my shelf. I remember it came off once - a really weird spider had appeared on the window and freaked me out. I ran to the other side of the room. My brother and grandfather grabbed my spider book and attempted to identify it while I screamed at them how stupid they were. Note - the spider was on the OUTSIDE of the window.

Yeah, arachnophobic.

Eventually, the book left my possession. It went first to a younger sibling, and I'm not sure where from there. I know I didn't throw it out. I love books too much to throw ANY out and even that book deserved a chance to find it's true owner.

But now - I wish I still had that stupid spider book (although I doubt I'd still be able to turn the pages properly).

Why? Research.

Writers are like sponges in that respect - soaking up every bit of information that comes our way. There's not a thing that cannot at some point become useful. I used to consider myself unfortunate in that I knew lots of 'useless information' rather than being expert in something (although it made me kinda handy on trivia nights) - now that's a boon, cause you never know what I'll need to know in a particular scene.

So every non-fiction resource you can gather could one day be the vital cog in your story - even that horrible spider book.

So hoarde, my friends - collect information, surround yourself in it, swim in it if need be. Family still unsure what to get you for Christmas? Ask them for something non-fiction - they can choose the subject. It could provide the spark for the perfect story.

Santa image from


Anonymous said...

What a precious story...that you shared. It takes me back to my childhood and that was a long time ago. Merry Christmas from Patsy Anne

Nicole Murphy said...

Thanks Patsy Anne - Merry Christmas to you too. Hope it is full of laughter and love.

Stuffed Olive said...

Plus, know thy enemy...