The joy of primary sources

Amiga World Magazine and floppy diskIf you’ve done research, you’re familiar with primary sources. Reading first-hand accounts, viewing artifacts, and visiting the places you write about can help you bring a story to life.

As I cleaned out our garage recently, I came across some of my old Amiga stuff. One was an issue of Amiga World magazine that published a review I wrote in 1988. I also found some of my old data disks, including one we used to plan our wedding.

The find had some practical benefits. The magazine ads answered a question I had about the price of 3.5-inch floppy disks. (You can buy a 64-GB USB drive for less than the price of a box of 10 floppy disks, and this is without adjusting for inflation.) It also jogged my memory, reminding me of programs I used and things I had forgotten.

The greatest benefit was the emotions it stirred.

Being able to pick up and touch artifacts from 30 years ago reconnected me to the Amiga. I found myself immersed again in a world I was a part of. Recapturing those emotions and memories can help me recreate them in my novel.

The joy of primary sources is how they make you part of the story. You live in it and instead of just writing about it.