I almost didn’t start writing novel number two last week because I was worried I hadn’t done enough research. Then I decided that sounded like a really good route to extended procrastination so jumped in regardless with the intention of filling in any gaps as they opened up. Now that I’m delving deeper into the world of the novel, I’m actually suspecting that there might be much less research that needs doing than I originally thought. At least I hope so…
There are some areas that I’m definitely still planning on reading around to avoid any glaring errors. Sleep science and dream theory for example: I imagine I’ll be taking a bit of artistic license with both, but I’d like to have a bit of a better grounding in the realities before I start to play. Then there’s the different aspects of mental health that affect my two main characters. That’s something I don’t want to mess up, and despite having a degree of personal experience to work with I’d like to make sure I don’t misrepresent this sensitive and important issue.
The area though that I’ve decided I can probably chill out about is my protagonist’s career. She works in the media, and I was getting all hung up on wanting that part of her world to be ‘right’. I think mainly so that if any of my media-type friends ever read it I wouldn’t end up feeling embarrassed about my lack of insider knowledge. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that what is considered ‘right’ might vary quite a lot from one perspective to another. And anyway, perhaps I was chasing something that wasn’t that important after all.
Ultimately, in the pursuit of verisimilitude, surely what we’re looking for as novelists is something that rings true rather than something that necessarily is true? Whilst obviously I don’t want to paint a picture that’s a million miles from reality, it’s more important that the majority of my non-media-type readers believe it to be true than any experts know it to be true. And with that in mind my relatively well informed layperson’s perspective might just be a better place to come from than one that will cut down my imagination every time it meanders too far from the real world.
I realise this is in danger of sounding like a protracted excuse to do less research. Be that as it may I’ve decided that trusting myself is going to be okay – and might just make the reality I’m creating that little bit more convincing.