Ugh. Here's a question about writing I frequently ask myself: why does writing so often take me to unpleasant, dark places? What does this say about me? Obviously I have some control over the process, right?
This particular internet field trip started out, not exactly innocently but routinely. I needed some information on a notorious cluster of bars in a Mexican city. Photos, if possible. I'd never been there (and wouldn't likely go) but I don't like to just make stuff up - to the extent that I can have a real place to picture in my head, the happier I am as a writer — unless I'm writing speculative fiction and just, you know, making sh1t up — oddly, those completely created environments are very vivid to me. I can picture exactly what everything looks like.
My last book was set primarily in China, and it featured a number of net bars and karaoke clubs. I've been to enough of them to create plausible environments. Mexican tourist bars, art bars, even a few dodgy ones, I've been to plenty of them too. But not this kind of place.
So, research. And yeah, in a way, I hit the mother lode. All the descriptions I needed. Pages and pages, post after post on a chat board for a "club" that's all about men who like to pay for sex.
It was disturbing, though maybe not in the way you'd think. I mean, men have been paying for sex for a few thousand years at least, and I was not unaware of this fact. It was the insular nature of it, the "community" aspect, the jargon they used, the way they rated the girls according to looks, enthusiasm and performance, the fact that I had to keep running to the Urban Dictionary to understand what they were talking about, what each particular combination of initials stood for.
By the time I reached the place where one member was calling out certain newbies for not posting their "field reports," you know, for taking information from others and not reciprocating, I was nodding my head and thinking, "yeah, that's not fair, this guy's been really generous about sharing."
I think the post that got to me the most was from a guy who wanted to get information about typical tourist activities and popular places to go in the area. Because as many times as he'd been to this town, he never went to any of them; no, he stayed at some sleazy hotel by a br0thel and went out for cheap wh0res, and that was all he ever did. And he wanted to make sure he could lie plausibly to his coworkers, about, you know, what he did on his vacation.
Ick. I think I'd better get over to Cute Overload. I need kittens and puppies, stat.