By Bethany Maines
Recently, I spent an hour at our historical documents library chasing down the names of the trolley stops between Tacoma and Spanaway Lake in the year 1914. Why, I hear you ask? What possible strange writer thing could I be up to? Is there a new novel in the works featuring a motorman’s adventures trying to the clear the name of a fellow conductor whose trolley appeared to take a turn too fast and go over an embankment fiery ball of flames in turn of the century Tacoma Washington? No, although now that you mention it, I would totally read that novel.
In fact this research mission was related to my day job – graphic design. While it’s rare for a design job to take me to the library, I strongly feel that both hats that I wear revolve around the same theme – I tell stories. Sometimes it’s in words and the stories are of my own in invention and sometimes it’s for a client who wants to showcase their unique narrative either in print or in the case of the trolley client on the side of their building. Yes, they take different skills, but at the end of the day, I feel like there’s a lot of overlap. Each project must have a beginning that sets the stage and leads the viewer/reader into main message and then conclude in a satisfactory manner. I think my ability to spot a narrative aids me in both lines of work. And of course, the benefit to being paid to research strange topics, is that who knows when a novel will require the use of my new found trolley knowledge.