Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thirsty camel

The Joy of Research

One reason I am not a more successful writer, is that I am much too easily distracted. Every time I start researching a topic, I see another one nearby that interests me more. Such was my fortune, recently, as I was checking out cross references on George Eastman, the man who brought us the Kodak.

While diligently perusing the word, "Camera," in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, my eyes strayed to the word, "Cameo."
"Cameos are nice," I thought to myself, turning my eyeballs back where they belonged. "I wonder how they make them?" Cameos, not cameras, I meant.
"Well, I came to find out about cameras." my reasonable self said. "I'll just stick the word, "Cameos," in the back of my notebook and check into them another day when I have more time."
Dutifully, I jotted "CAMEOS" on the last page of my blue spiral notebook, in capital letters so I wouldn't forget.
I didn't forget. Cameras suddenly seemed so-o-o boring. I turned several pages of the notebook and started compiling references for cameos in addition to the more mundane ones about cameras.
"After all," I reasoned, "there's no point in having to look up all these things again, not when they're right here under my nose, just above cameras.
I began to page furiously back and forth between the camera and cameo sections of my notebook. There were dozens of references for me to glean, and I didn't want to miss a single one.
Working my way backward from 1995, I had already reached 1991, when, again, my eyes betrayed me. Just above cameos, was the word, "camels".
Now, I have always been fascinated by camels, and the interesting and unusual titles spread out before me were like chocolate drops, luring me away from what I knew I should be doing. Also like chocolate drops, it seemed, they were crying out for me to partake. The watch on my wrist was also crying out for me to redeem the time, but I was already hooked.
I remembered a baby camel I once saw in a zoo. Its beautiful soft eyes surrounded by thick curved lashes had made me want to hug it. (Yes, I know all the stories about the camel's nasty temper, but, when I hear the word camel, it's always that sweet little baby camel that comes to mind.)
Quickly, I established a camel department in my notebook, and it began to fill even more rapidly than the other two.
Luckily, I got out of the library that day before my wayward eyeballs strayed to any more words I couldn't resist. But, just to prove to you how fascinating a day of research can be, I'd like to share one of the things I learned there about camels.
Remember the story in the Bible where Abraham sent his servant to Canaan to find a wife for his son, Isaac? The servant took 10 camels and went to the city of Nahor, where he saw several young women drawing water from a well.
He prayed that the woman God had chosen to be Isaac's wife would, when he requested a drink of water, also offer to water his camels.
Rebekah, the young heroine of this particular story, came to the well carrying a pitcher on her shoulder, and, when Abraham's servant requested water, she readily obliged him, and offered to draw water so that all of his camels could drink their fill.
The interesting thing about this story is that one thirsty camel can easily put away a bathtub full of water. A bathtub full! Can you believe that?
Poor Rebekah, armed with only a pitcher, probably drew up and carried at least 250 gallons of water, one pitcher at a time, that hot and dusty afternoon before those 10 thirsty camels were satisfied.
Now you see how I spend my writing time. I may not sell as many articles as some of my writer friends, but, so far, finding out about cameras, cameos, and camels has made life extremely interesting. Who could ask for anything more?
Jeanne Gibson writes from her home in Springfield, OR on a variety of subjects including marriage, divorce, kids, cats, working from home, research, and writing. If you are just starting out as a writer, and wondering where to find ideas check out her blogpost at:

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