Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Book Block: A JOURNEY INTO MICHELANGELO'S ROME by Angela K. Nickerson

Another non-fiction offering this time, this one an interesting fusion of travel and art. I'll put in a note here that I'm starting to run low on Book Blocks, and only have enough for another week or two. If you've been meaning to send one in, and haven't done so yet, please consult the guidelines on the sidebar and e-mail away!

Written by Angela K. Nickerson

A Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome
Author: Angela K. Nickerson
Book Title: A Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome
Format: paperback
Length: 180 pages
Publisher: Roaring Forties Press, 2008
ISBN: 978-0977742912

Book Block: Research

I’d lived with Michelangelo a long time before I started to write A Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome. In my pre-writing life, I taught literature, and I developed a course called “The Bible as Literature.” To hook my students I used Michelangelo’s work as illustrations for the Biblical stories we studied. I’d been out of the classroom and writing professionally for a few years when Roaring Forties Press put out a call for proposals, but I knew that this was meant to be. A Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome is truly a fusion of my great passions: writing, travel, and art.

Because I’d done so much research as a teacher, I did not have to start from scratch. I knew Michelangelo. However, I spent months and months immersed in the 16th century reading everything I could find. Dr. William Wallace, one of the world’s leading experts on Michelangelo, was a tremendous help and led me to a few resources I might never have found on my own. I was at a disadvantage in that university libraries were largely off limits, but I know a few librarians who helped me track down some obscure documents. And I checked out dozens of books from my local library – stretching the limits of our inter-library loan system, and sending a few research librarians on wild goose chases.

But the most fun part of my research happened in Italy. Casa Buonarroti in Florence holds the largest collection of Michelangelo’s papers and sketches. It is a remarkable place to visit. And in Rome I developed friendships with several people who work for museums and Rome’s archaeological agencies. They were a great help in collecting information as well. It was actually quite remarkable: all I had to say was, “I am writing a book about Michelangelo…” People smiled. Doors opened. And stories spilled out. I had some remarkable interviews. One scholar met me on the balcony where Michelangelo and his dear friend, Vittoria Colonna, spent their Sunday afternoons in debate and conversation. We sat under the clear Roman sky while he regaled me with stories of the great artist and his friends – and I took careful notes.

During interviews I always kept both a notebook and my iPod with me. I have a microphone for my iPod, so I was able to record each conversation. But I find note taking to be extremely important in helping to organize the conversation and my own thoughts as well. All of my notes – from interviews, books, and other resources – were organized the best way I know how: on notecards. When I was in sixth grade my English teacher guided me through my first scholastic research paper. We learned how to take notes using notecards to organize the information. We then learned to sort the notecards, make an outline, and write the paper using the notecards as our guard against plagiarism. This method served me well through high school, college, graduate school, and teaching, and it is second nature to me by now. So, out came the notecards once again.

In the end, my first draft of the manuscript was more than twice as long as it needed to be. And the editing began. But that research served me well. I would far rather have too much information and be able to choose than to be forced to fill in with fluff.

Where To Buy The Book: Amazon

Angela's Website and Blog:
Website, Blog

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