History as It Happens

In The Daily Writer today, Fred White talks about writing to preserve history.  He talks about the importance of being true to historical events.  He goes so far as to say we have a moral obligation to record history and that it is a betrayal to the resulting human experience not to.  I wonder how any historical events get accurately preserved.  I am continually amazed at how people living in the same community, let alone the same state or country can have polar opposite perspectives on life. 

American politics, in general, seem so polarized right now; it’s hard to keep up hope.  It seems as a country, we are stuck in a sort of bi-partisan stalemate on every issue across the board.  I blame the media including the World Wide Web for perpetuating untruths and dividing our nation.  The news networks have given up on pure journalism and constantly report events out of context.  My email box is hit daily with forwarded messages about how over 50% of America is dumb enough to vote a terrorist President and how one party or another is openly planning a conspiracy against the other. 

Still, I do have hope.  I see groups popping up on the internet about finding facts instead of picking sides.  I hear folks asking questions instead of just regurgitating what they’ve heard elsewhere.  What will it be like in a hundred years when a historian looks back to sift through all the data we’ve spouted out there?  How will he ever be able to make sense of it all?

Fact of the matter

Get the facts, mind your p’s and q’s and get it straight.  Don’t forget to cross your T’s and dot your I’s.  Today Fred talks about fact checking, making sure your writing is accurate by backing it up with research.  Since I publish my own blog, I don’t have the luxury of an on staff fact checker.  I do it myself and frankly, sometimes I blow it off.  Fred and I agree it’s important but it shouldn’t get in the way of the creative process.

Fred suggests keeping a fact checking notebook as you write or assigning yourself a “fact to be checked” symbol to write in the margins to remind you to check into it later so in the midst of writing you can continue to go with the flow.

My friend Amy and I spent quite a few weeks last year in a local coffee shop working on writing a collaborative script from scratch.  It still sits unfinished on our respective laptops but the experience was a blast and we both discovered a love for research.  In fact, we would often get carried away reading each other snippets of history about our story’s location or obituaries of people with names the same as our characters.  It was so much fun and the hours passed too quickly.  We would often finish the day with only a page of dialogue but a plethora of information about lingo used by short order cooks in greasy spoons of the 1940’s.  I miss those days.

Eventually, we made a pact to note items to be researched later so we could plow ahead with the dialogue and the plot.  Of course, we found other distractions but we did make a little headway after that.

My plan of action is to continue noting my ‘to be checked facts’ in the margins.  The idea of maintaining another notebook seems like too much trouble to me and that’s a fact.