He raised one eye and leered, “What? Do all that work for a cent and a half a word?”

     And just to drive the idea home, I might remark that one day I happened into the New York public library. Crossing the file room I slammed into a heavy bulk and ricocheted back to discover I had walked straight into Norvell Page and he into me.

     I gaped. “Page!”

     “Hubbard!” he whispered in awed tones.

     Solemnly we shook each other by the hand.

     CHORUS: Well, this is the first time I ever saw a writer in a library!

     These two instances should serve to illustrate the fact that research does not rhyme with writer no matter what kind of mill you pound.

     Research is a habit which is only acquired by sheer force of will. The easy thing to do is guess at the facts – so thinks the writer. When, as a matter of facts, the easy thing to do is go find the facts if you have to tear a town to pieces.

     Witness what happened last summer.

     Staring me in the face were a stack of dangerous profession stories which have since appeared in Argosy. At that time they were no more than started and I sighed to see them stretching forth so endlessly.

     I chose “Test Pilot” as the next on the list and started to plot it. I thought I knew my aviation because the Department of Commerce tells me so. Blithely, thinking this was easy, I started in upon a highly technical story without knowing the least thing about that branch of flying – never having been a test pilot.

     For one week I stewed over the plot. For another week I broiled myself in the scorching heat of my self-accusation. Two weeks and nothing written.

      Was I losing money fast!

      There wasn’t anything for it then. I had to find out something about test pilots.

      Across the bay from my place in Seattle is the Boeing plant. At the Boeing plant there would be test pilots. I had to go!

      And all for a cent and a half a word.

      I went. Egdvedt, the Boeing president, was so startled to see a real live writer in the place that he almost talked himself hoarse.

     Mitchell, the chief engineer, was so astounded at my ignorance that he hauled me through the plant until I had bunions the size of onions.

     I sighed.

     All for a cent and a half a word!

     I went home.

Search For Research continued...


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