I've been meaning to write a blog entry lauding the virtues of research for quite some time now. For me, there is a unique sense of satisfaction in pushing beyond my own assumptions and common knowledge to find aspects of a piece that I didn't even know existed. The excitement of settling down with a new stack of books (or laptop and search engine, as the case may be) is equaled only by the payoff - new information that can forge a strong connection between two or more disparate elements of the current production. I can't imagine a better way to ensure creation of a fresh story than to build directly on personal experiences or exploration. And then, of course, there are the extra, not-immediately-useful tidbits that accumulate as a by-product of the process. Oddball facts about ancient Egyptian boat building techniques (they used twine to hold the ships together!), "fancy rat" breeding, or current theories on neuroplasticity are a pretty sweet frosting on the research cake.
All silliness aside, I am always deeply grateful to my information habit when an unexpected deadline looms. Knowing the material inside and out allows for added innovation and flexibility as new opportunities present themselves or obstacles are encountered. Maybe someday someone will write an aria about the heady pleasures of research - but probably not me - I'll be too busy learning about rural Oregon history, the relevant physics of asteroid mining colonies or the finer points of Zoroastrian liturgical ceremonies.