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“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares


“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant


“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus


“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction


“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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Menstrual Devices and Women's Undergarments During the Late 19th Century

Did anyone come to this blog today by way of the search string "menstrual devices and women's undergarments during the late 19th century?" I'd be curious to find out.

Why such a bizarre search string? Because I find myself researching the weirdest things while writing this novel. Because the first 100 pages take place in Reszek, Poland, between 1806 and 1895, the second 100 pages in America between 1944 and 1970-something, and the third also in America, from 1990-something onward, I've needed to research a lot of things, from country geography and topography to political systems to cultural traditions. I've researched World War II and soldier wounds and the discovery of DNA and Cnut the Tide King and burnet saxifrage and passenger lists for ships entering the Port of Baltimore in 1895 to my favorite so far, menstrual devices and women's undergarments during the late 19th century. My search history on Google has the look and feel of an insane person.

I remember scraping a book a few years back about domestic terrorist because the person I was with at the time was uncomfortable with me doing Internet research on the topic from our computer. I understood her point, and I suppose I lost interest after a few months, anyway. But the Internet is a blessing and a curse. Without it, I'd be at the downtown library or the National Archives everyday, which, without a grant, is cost prohibitive. But despite its convenience, Internet research is addictive and sometimes I find myself spending hours reading about things that I will never use merely because they're interesting.

On a positive note, I did make it up to 187 pages (approx 53,00 words) last night. Maybe I will break 200 by the end of August. My other novel, THE SUMMER SHE WAS UNDER WATER, was only 65,000 pages. This one has the possibility of being 100,000, although I'd like to stop at 80,000. But, as evidenced by the search string "menstrual devices and women's undergarments during the late 19th century," you never know where your novel is going to take you.