That was me Tuesday night -- mired in self doubt. I had sought some information about the chronology of events following the Shelton Laurel Massacre and had gotten in touch with Col. Keith's great granddaughter in hopes of clearing up a few points. (Keith was the officer in charge during the Massacre and he is one of my five main characters.)
I think I've mentioned before that the books and articles and even the primary sources concerning the Massacre are highly contradictory at times. Trying, as I am, to be faithful to what actually happened . . . or is said to have happened . . . or might have happened is difficult at best.
And some of the information the great granddaughter sent me was totally out of line with everything I'd read. She also sent a heartfelt plea that I treat her great grandfather fairly and accurately.
And that was good. I spent a good bit of time yesterday rereading the chapters written from Keith's point of view and trying to make sure I'm treating him fairly -- and this is resulting in a more sympathetic and three-dimensional character.
But then there was that inexact chronology. The helpful ggdaughter referred me to a local expert on the Massacre and lo and behold -- another can of worms!
The expert emailed back to say that he's recently gotten access to some previously unnoticed primary documents that would shed some very interesting light on the whole affair.
Only . . . he couldn't share his findings with me as he hopes to put them together and publish them.
In a few years.
And I totally understand. And he did help to clear up the chronology tangle, for which I am extremely grateful.
But it made me question much of what I've written. And wake up in the middle of the night full of paralyzing self-doubt.
By morning though, things looked better, as they usually do. I reminded myself that my book is not history but fiction, based on a real event. I made plans for a nice long afterword, explaining what seems to be fact, what seems to be conjecture, and what is Vicki, making up stuff.
And I spent some little time in the pertinent chapters hedging my bets and being a bit ambiguous about a few disputed events.
Progress, of a sort. But not another chapter yet -- instead, two partial chapters . . .