Researching: Love/Hate

As I write I’m constantly taking Google excursions, researching some obscurity to get a fact right or authentically described. For example, I’m currently writing a scene in which Eddy and his sister Em are looking at an oil painting of Rose’s, their long-deceased, artistic mother. Marge, a friend of Em’s who knows something of art history, has described the style of the painting as abstract expressionism. This fictional factoid send me scurrying to Wikipedia. There, I find many references to abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning. There are examples of their works, and I’m attracted to a de Kooning painting, Woman V, 1952-53. I would describe Woman V as the very fractured, colorfully smudged body of a woman–but that’s my description of abstraction, not Eddy’s. So I have to translate my description into how I think Eddy would see the painting. In the scene I’m writing, I’m trying to convey the idea that the painting Em is showing Eddy is similar to the de Kooning painting in style and subject matter. Eddy thinks to himself, “It looks like a chain-sawed woman’s face sutured with a rainbow.” So, I’ve just spent about an hour on a sentence, and chances are I’ll eventually either change it or throw it out. Such is research. I love it; I hate it.

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