Igor, throw the switch!!


The Tesla coil begins to thrum. Machines spit sparks and rattle. Cobweb clad work tables await a new creation. The doctor enters, madness in his eyes. Or is it genius? So much work to be done, so many mysteries to be explored. But which to breathe life into first? What research siren’s call will sate his intellectual thirst? And so here we begin, at the beginning. At the drafting table.

For my graduate class, Core 2: Research Methods for Writers, I will be working on a semester-long research project. The project is intended to develop and challenge our definition and experience with research methods. Research opportunities far surpass the traditional book and data methods that we are all familiar with. I will be conducting my research in a variety of ways and posting it here, sharing not only my research, but the journey and experiences of gathering the data itself. This is intended for my peers and classmates, as well as any “outside” interested parties.

To research, one needs a topic TO research. Was it Confucius who said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”? Maybe it was Bruce Lee, or Yoda. Maybe it was Chuck Norris. So, let’s take that step. Hold on, let me put on my socks. So here I am, and here you are. I just saw a tumbleweed roll by. Who cued the crickets? Never mind. Let’s brainstorm.

Here are the ideas I have so far. Did I mention that the project should also be a local subject with potential national appeal? Well, I just did. So, here’s what I’ve got:

1. A look behind those roadside memorials that I see occasionally while driving. You know, the homemade cross with the road worker’s vest on it and a wreath. Or the candles and stuffed animals. I see them, usually after the rain has beat them down or carbon monoxide has colored the white plush bear black. Who were these people who died? How did they die? Who loved and cared about them so much that they stopped to build a memorial at that site, the assumed site of their death.

2. What do local religious institutes think about this end of the world thing? The Courier Post recently ran an article about a trio of guys that left behind jobs, companies, even families, to tour the nation, spreading their belief that the world is going to end in May 2011. May 21 to be precise. They claim that the Bible is filled with revelations and signs that this is the end of days. So, what’s the take from different religions? How do they feel about this and other religious institutions? What makes them so different anyway?

3. What’s going on with the local music scene? The music store around the corner has a rock camp for kids. They even get to perform in concert, etc. What other local bands are working on things? What goes on at The Electric Factory? What young talent is out there and how are they getting noticed?

4. What does it take to be a tattoo artist? How do you even begin? What kind of life is it? Is it profitable? It’s always intrigued me. Maybe a behind the scenes look into the profession of the tattoo artist?

5. What’s the story of the lakes around which my development is built? They are old sand quarries, spring-fed. I’ve fished them and caught bass. The middle of the main lake is supposed to be almost ninety feet deep. There is supposed to be a crane at the bottom. When the quarry was operational, they hit the water table and (according to the story) it filled up so fast that they could not get the crane out. A young girl drowned last year in the secondary lake. There is a memorial along the road for her, still.

This is where I am at. I am not sure I even like any of these ideas enough yet to go with them. I am still wracking my brain to come up with more ideas, but I welcome your feedback on what I have so far. What do you think of the topics? Do any of these interest you? Would you ever be interested in reading a piece about any of these? Let me know.

Until then, I’ll be with Igor, throwing switches.

4 comments on “Igor, throw the switch!!

  1. alexa says:

    I like all of your research ideas, but especially the end-of-the-world one. There are so many different theories out there that you may not be able to put them all in one project, but examining the most “popular” or best-known ones and comparing them as far as who, what, when, where, why, and how would probably be very interesting. You would have plenty of people to talk to, I’m sure, between different religions alone. I don’t know if it’d be possible to put a “political” perspective on it and see what public officials (our legal guardians, if you will) have an opinion on it…

    Best of luck, Joe! 🙂

  2. Haha loved your post, especially the picture of Igor! I can’t believe you came up with so many ideas, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, should I! I’m intrigued by the tattoo artist idea. My sister was offered a job as a tattoo artist a couple of months ago, but she was just started college last semester so she didn’t take it. Ever since she got the job offer, I’ve been interested in what kind of lives they lead. Any one that you pick will produce some interesting material, so you’re good to go!

  3. BW says:

    There are some good options here, and to narrow down I’d think about the genre that you are going to be writing in, as each affords different possibilities for different genres.

    Thinking of the topics in and of themselves, I think 1, 4, and 5 offer the most possibilities depending on the genre.

    1 would be great for poetry, short story, feature, young adult, and fantasy. (In my undergrad poetry thesis there is a poem about a roadside memorial–more of a shrine, actually–and there are so many possibilities with it.) There are also considerable scholarly sources out there on roadside memorials, as well as news stories, which you can find via any Google search.

    4 would be great for short story, feature, young adult, fantasy

    5 would be great for poetry, short story, feature, children’s story, young adult, and fantasy.

    Don’t get hemmed in on the feature (which is how many of your ideas are proposed) just because we read them in class.


    • josephmcgee says:

      Ok, you had me at YA and fantasy. That changes things immensely. I know you gave the green light in class about exploring different genres, but (as you pointed out) my mind locked onto the feature track for some reason. The minute fiction genre and fantasy, or paranormal, or speculative themes get mentioned, I begin to drool and twitch. My hand begins to grab for pencils or reflexively type on air keyboards.

      The ideas take on an entirely new light when presented in this fashion. I have some very interesting ideas toward the tattoo artist topic. Although the research uncovered will drive the creation of the eventual stories, I am thinking fantasy or spec/dystopian short stories (four perhaps) centered on a common theme and sharing strings or links of story devices. I am intrigued by this sense of cultural socio/tribal expression and continued movement toward urban marking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s