Research and Roadblocks, or, Dancing About Architecture

Sexy manSometimes I think I’m too hard on myself in the “research department.”  We all know I was too hard on “The Worst Best Luck,” beating myself up because I didn’t go all Method Actor and become an auto mechanic before writing one as a character.  And now I’m angsting over Rocky and Dex because I don’t know shit about music production or exactly what their vocal ranges are, and so on.  So I’m kind of froze up out of terror that I’ll fuck it up.

That said, right now I’m reading Francine Prose’s “Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932.”  And of her many characters, one of the mains is a race car driver/mechanic, and the other is a photographer.  And you know what?  There is hardly a single detail about what racing, car repair, or professional photography involve.  Is it still a good story?  Oh yeah.  Do I feel like something is missing?  Well, no.  The way she’s written the book, it’s in the form of letters, memoirs and biography, so there really aren’t any places where a character would be going into detail about what they do, or where their biographer would be doing it either.

I think if she was writing as the omniscient narrator, I’d expect more detail, but in this context, it’s okay.  It works.  Did she do that on purpose to avoid having to write about darkroom chemicals and engine bits?  I don’t think so.  But it gives her a pass on it.  She did list some famous female race car drivers of the time, so it’s not like she didn’t do research.  It’s just that any research she did had no place in the story.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.  Rocky and Dex and their bands are about to duet, and I’m angsting on how to describe it.  I can say, you know, the two of them end up harmonizing, and the drummers sync up, etc.  But is there some technical language for all that?  Sure there is.  I don’t know it though.  And TBH I can’t be all Method and go off and become a music theory expert in time to write this book.  Okay, sure, if I was writing a book a year, and/or had no day job.  I have enough energy to write, and work a job, and that’s it.  I got no more.

But I think I’m overthinking it.  I don’t NEED to be Alex Ross before I write a scene with music in it.  I don’t NEED to get all technical in discussing each line of the music.  As the old saying goes, attributed mostly to Elvis Costello, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”  I need to write this scene, and THEN judge myself lol.

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