So I’m writing these duck books. Because I love ducks. But it seems that with duck-love comes responsibility. It seems that if you love a duck, you must not feed it Belgian chocolates. My eagle-eyed editor reads my manuscript and informs me that chocolates are not good for ducks and can actually be fatal. This is not good for my story-duck, Max, who is very fond of them. And whose fondness for said chocolates is very important to the story.
When my editor tells me of this unfortunate fact, I take a moment to pause. I say “Damn you, facts! Why must you always get in the way of a good story?”
Then I take another moment to pause again.
Because my editor tells me it is a Google search which has given her this information. And as much as I love Google, I am wary of relying on it as a research tool. So I climb aboard my high-horse, with my duck sitting side saddle in front of me, and tell my editor I’m going to look into this ‘more deeply’ before I make any drastic changes.
But I am pressed for time. And I hate talking on the phone. And I don’t know any duck experts.
What can I do?
I use Google. Of course. Only ‘more deeply’ and with additional Google-fu.
This is what I tell myself.
What does Google tell me?
It tells me that chocolate is not good for ducks. It tells me so in many, many pages.
I do what any deep researcher would do. I decide to try a different search string, one which will perhaps yield me more
convenient accurate results. I type in “What do ducks eat?”
And lo! The page of my dreams, it appears before me, or at least a summary of it, in my search results. It appears like this:
What do Ducks eat? … low-fat chocolate milk .. orange juice… white bread … Bowl of grape jelly … large bowl of dill pickle spears …Peanut butter
At last!, I think. I have found a kindred spirit. I have found someone who does not mollycoddle the ducks of this world. I have found proof that ducks can enjoy all kinds of weird and wonderful things if they are only given the chance.
Then, because I am researching ‘more deeply’ and with maximum Google-fu, I decide to click on the page itself. And I discover this:
Recently at University Catering on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, the crew has been forced on short notice to prepare for the Oregon Ducks football team a daily late-night buffet spread for their team meetings. With all the items being cold, the kitchen crew is not required to stick around to fire any hot items, though students must be scheduled to deliver the cold smorgasbord to the opposite side of campus every night for a 9:30 pm start. So the question remains to be asked — What do Ducks eat?
Then I beat my head against the desk, Dobby-style, and call the wildlife sanctuary. “What do ducks eat?” I ask them. “Not the Oregon Ducks, but actual, you know, living ducks. That quack. Can they, perhaps, enjoy the occasional Belgian chocolate?”
“Oh dear,” they say. “Oh dear, no. You must never feed chocolate to a duck. What are you thinking?”
“I am thinking,” I say, “that I have some re-writing to do.”
How do editors even know stuff like that?
In The Count of Monte Cristo, a lot of the characters practise mithridatism. I've never heard of ducks doing this but you never know
I don't know. They just do. Or at least they have a sense of what to query, then Google takes care of the rest.
I had to look mithridatism up – what a great word! Not sure if I could have worked it into my little chapter book, though.
Did you know you are my very first comment? I'm actually still transferring stuff the old stuff over from the website. Feel free to go through and comment wantonly all over the place so it looks like I have friends!
Did you have a comments box on your other site? If so, I didn't see it so I must apologise for not commenting sooner
No, I didn't. I was just using pages from my site, with no bloggy type bells and whistles. I've moved things here because it's easier to manage – auto-archiving, labels and such. But since I've transferred 2+ years of content, all of which are now followed by the tag “No comments”, it looks a little sad!
I may have to assume various disguises and go in and randomly add things like “Ha!” and “So true!” and “Nice site! Please visit mine for cheap watches” just so I feel part of the blogosphere.
I miss your blog, by the way.
OH NO! I just brought a lovely little bag of Cadbury Doves, sat down by the lake next to my office & shared my bag of chocolates with (you guessed it) a DUCK! It was so cute though, it was clambering all over my legs just to get to them chocolates! After about 8 it had chocolate all around its little beak! It was deffinitely photo worthy so I snapped a few pics but anywho, thats not the point! After Google-ing 'Can Ducks eat chocolate?' I've discovered IM A MURDERER of the worst form, a Killer wielding Kindness as her weapon and eyeing the innocent Feathered-Folk as her victim!
You fed Doves to a duck? Chocolate aside, there's something very wrong about that! I hope your duck is okay. I guess we both make the case for hitting Google up before, rather than after, the fact.