Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mythology, History, and Research

So, I've been reading up on the history of Scandinavia and Norse mythology for my research for this new book. I'm feeling totally overwhelmed. I've never paid much attention to history. Sure, I've gleaned a certain amount of knowledge over the years when it comes to Greece and Rome, and even Egypt to an extent. Those are the cultures which heavily influenced the regions from whence my ancestors came, Britain and so on, which in turn have a massive influence on America.

But when it comes to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland (and apparently Germany but not Finland), their mythology and history, I'm at a loss. The mythology includes Germany but not Finland, while the history includes Finland but not Germany. The physical territory, the different peoples who fought and migrated, united and tore themselves apart, it's all foreign to me.

It's fascinatingly foreign, but I'm starting to feel overwhelmed again when it comes to the research for this book. The mythology is fascinating. I read "D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths" as part of my research. It was a good introduction to the gods and stories this book is set to focus on. (It's geared, I think, to younger children, but again a good introduction.)

But heaven help me if I try to research it further. The deeper I dig, the more names appear. I have another book of mythology that encompasses lots of different regions. The section on the myths of the Nordic lands goes much deeper, including Germany, Russia, and other Slavic regions.

I'm caught in a vicious cycle. The more research into the mythology I do, the more I realize I need to research the history. Then the more I research the history the more frustrated I become so I dive deeper into the mythology.

This book has been brewing in my head for 3 years now. It's changed shape a few times and I've shelved it several times as well. But it's still there, demanding to be written. If only I can get through the research.

The other thing that makes me freeze when it comes to research? Knowing that no matter how much research I do, there will always be people out there who will rip me up one side and down the other over my "lack of research." Sigh. I want to do this story, the area of the world it's focusing on, justice, but I'm terrified of the prospect.

Which means I should totally be writing this story, right? What we're afraid of will make us stronger if we face it? Something like that?


  1. I only allowed myself about two weeks of research on CURSE, and then just dove in. I could have put it off forever if I didn't make myself just start. You can always stop and research as you go, but at least you have begun the book. And I always try to forget about what people will say. It's FICTION, and it's mine, and I have to own that. I always tell myself, "I'm not writing non-fiction, and I'm not re-writing a book about mythology. I'm writing a story. If readers can't suspend their disbelief to read my story, then I don't want them as readers, anyway, and I don't care what they think. Their loss."


    I hope you can begin soon!

    1. I should have done that. Perhaps then I would have written this book before now. Thank you for the reminder of so much of what I already knew. The book won't write itself and it'll never get written if I don't stop researching and get to writing. *hugs*

  2. Personally, I like the children's books when it comes to research. They are concise and easy to understand, and usually contain all the info you really need. There are times when you have to dig deeper, but don't feel like you have to be an expert. Most people won't criticize any lack of research. Good luck with the book. Sounds like it will be fascinating. Also, apologies for being absent from the blogosphere so often!

    1. Oh, absolutely. Children's books are great. This one was wonderful. I loved the illustrations and the art style. The pages felt so great in my hands. Wonderfully concise, too. Thanks for coming by and don't worry about being absent from online. I know that there was a lot going on in your life that had to take precedence.

  3. Research is important, but I find that it's sometimes hard to sift through all the info--especially if it seems contradictory (sp?).

    I like Angie's idea about using kids books for research--never thought of that!

    1. Oh absolutely 100% agree on the contradictory stuff and sifting through everything. Kids' books are definitely a fun starting point.


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