Friday, April 20

Researching Woes...

Too much researching. There is such a thing, and sadly, I am there. It has been frustrating me the last few days, and since my kids are 1 and 2yrs old, and are currently too busy fighting over a Cinderella doll to listen to my woes, I thought I'd pour them out to you all.

Since I am currently waiting on edits for both my books, I've decided in the meantime to work on a new project totally unrelated to my previous two. I love the idea, and have been hard at work researching as it is historical, and part of it involves a Native American tribe, the Shawnee.

Never heard of them? Probably not, and hence my woe. They are a fascinating race, however unlike the Cherokee, or the Iroquois, or the Navajo, they are not generally well known, and there is very little information out there about them. That in itself is frustrating, but what's worse is that the information that IS available contradicts itself at every turn! One book--written by a true Shawnee, mind you--says one thing, while a second book--also written by a Shawnee--says something completely different!

Who's right?

Honestly, they are probably both right. While there were major beliefs and practices that all Shawnee adhered to, lots of other things varied from village to village. Certain things like marriage, pregnancy, etc., may be handled in one way at one village, while those same things in other villages may have been handled in totally different ways.

Grumble, grumble, grumble...

Generalization is another problem. Think about what a person 200 years from now would say if asked about the custom of marriage in our time. That person would probably have to say that marriage was legally binding but casual, most marriages ending in divorce, with the majority of people being married more than once in their lifetime. Does that represent your life? Your marriage? Maybe not, but as a generality, sadly, it's correct. Imagine what a third grader in 2300 would write in his or her report about marriage in our time having read only that one sentence. Pretty bleak, no? So generalizations are usually inaccurate too.

Grumble, grumble, grumble...

Okay, so to recap, no one right answer, and beware the generalization.

Yeah sure, that's all well and good for a book report, but... oh, that's right, I'm writing fiction.

So what the hell am I supposed to do? How can I be sure I will get it right? After all, if you get it wrong, you are liable to offend someone. But what if there is no 'right'? How can there be 'wrong' if there is no 'right'?


I think, for me anyway, the answer for now is to jump off of the researching roller coaster and just write the story. I don't need to worry about details that I am not going to use, and I can't know which ones I will use until I write the story. Then I will go back, fact-check what I need to, and worry about inconstancy and generalization then.

Oh course, this is all easier said than done, as even as I write this I continue to worry and stress about it...

Anyone else have this issue? Any thoughts?


  1. I have to ask because it seems a bit obvious--why not just switch tribes?

  2. Haha! Yes, that is obvious, and I should have mentioned that. I need it to be the Shawnee as they work the best for my story. Their location in the time frame of my book makes them one of the only tribes I can use.

    Thanks though! :)

  3. It's fiction, make up a fictitious tribe! Hehe . . . I know, I'm no help ;o) Like I said in my blog post, no matter what you write, someone somewhere is going to be offended. Just do the best you can with what you got. Oh, and keep track of your sources! This way, if someone questions your facts, you can direct him/her to your source :o) BOOYAH!

  4. Haha! Yes! Blame someone else! :D Thanks Angela. ;)