Every profession has its issues. For writers, one of the issues is distractions. Even necessary things like eating, interaction with family, and research can, if allowed to reign unchecked, wreak havoc with a writer’s work ethic. Because let’s face it, distractions are fun, usually, while writing is often a large load of hard work. Most authors prefer not to implode, and therefore they write. The option of chasing a distraction can be a welcome respite. If one can convince oneself that the distraction is actually a part of the writing, as in the case of research, well, that’s a bonus, isn’t it?
However, if an author isn’t careful, they can fall into the research hole and never make their way back to the manuscript. Still, part of the charm of writing is all the cool stuff you find out in the name of fact-checking your work. I found some fairly interesting things out in my
distraction research today. I’ll let you decide if they are charming or not.
- The ancients often used ground up carmine beetles for lipstick. They also used variously colored clay thinned with water. Wierder yet? The beetle carcasses are still in use today, finely ground, of course.
- The earliest mirrors were actually polished stone, usually obsidian. Ironically, in the Rephaim series, obsidian is a substance that blocks angels from using the Shift, an interdimensional portal that allows travel through time and space. That fact ought to make for some interesting plot twists.
- Bed linens were named quite literally. Woven flax, aka linen, has been in use since at least 3000 bc. Linen has been prized as bedding since it is one of the few fabrics that actually improves its functionality (in this case softness) with use.
- Many of your favorite foods would have pleased the ancient Babylonians as well. They enjoyed melons, cucumbers, plums and prunes as well as pork, beef and mutton. Their main grain was barley, which they not only ate, but fermented and turned into beer. I guess you have to drink something if there’s no wine.
- The ancient Babylonians didn’t have much contact with horses, but they did like their donkeys, at least as draft animals. They also had bred cattle and sheep. But the fact I enjoyed most is that, just like many of us, the Babylonians knew a good dog when they saw one. The evidence shows that they prized Salukis (a sight dog used for hunting) from about 6500 bc onward.
So, what fun facts have you turned up in your research?