As I start this post, I'm sitting out in the middle of a field in a little house in Tehachapi. It's a couple hours north of Los Angeles, a couple hours away from the Mojave Desert.
The landscape is all shades of yellow, brown, and purple. I did not understand the expression "purple mountain majesty" until I moved out West, where there's something in the grasses or the air that turns the slopes this lovely shade of purple-gray.
Tehachapi isn't the middle of nowhere, but it's pretty quiet. There's some hiking out in the mountains, and we slid around on dust and acorns making our way up. It's autumn, so it's cool and the air is clean. We came across a little monastery at the bottom of the mountains and bought jam from a nun.
There was a wonderful little German bakery in town, full of pastries and rye loaves.
I also got to work on the beginning of Kabuki-ish, my current project. I have finished my main outlines, so I'm easing into writing the opening scenes. I have been researching Kabuki-ish over the last couple months, benefitting from participating in a seminar being taught by Kabuki scholar. I've been reading plays in the original, translating, and reading secondary research. It's been lots of fun going through encyclopedias on everything from wigs to theater layout, and even experiencing Edo period books.
There is so much to read, and this is not my specialty, but that makes the research more interesting. I even copied mid-eighteenth century theater maps in my notebook for easy reference...
Normally, my day job is teaching and researching. It's always funny to me when people talk about research for fiction and it's just limited to Wikipedia or a lone Tumblr to try and figure out some daily life questions. I also see questions on Reddit that are strangely specific and are meant for writing. But I can't imagine holding myself to a lower standard than I would an undergraduate working on a short paper; that is to say, research takes time and good sources.
That said, I am not married to everything I read during research, but I sure as hell want to know where I am diverting. Kabuki-ish is irreverent in nature, but if I can't put obscure research details in my book, what's the point of writing?
The premise of Kabuki-ish is that a girl decides she wants to be an actor, only to discover that only men can be actors. So, she goes off to the big city to pretend to be a man who plays women on stage. I've been outlining to lots of bluegrass and old rock, random musicals. Should be fun.