Occasionally, one of my professors would point this out to me. I would invest far too much into the research project I was writing at the time and do too much research, find too much information, and then just write too much, covering too much ground or going too deep. This would sometimes lead to a paper or project being late, but it was still good, and I would still receive a good grade. A much simpler analogy is the “Wikipedia clicker,” someone who starts on a specific topic page and just keeps clicking out, out, out, absorbing more, more, more indirect information. A couple of my friends have that problem. [cackle] I would joke that they need a parental lock on Wikipedia, but that only leads to a pot-kettle comparison.
Still, I do have this tendency to not know where to draw the line on subjects that truly intrigue me. I guess I’m an information whore. If there’s one thing one can assume in the way I treat these works, it’s that I’m not half-assed about it. Trying to be “too thorough” may be a weakness in some contexts, but I think it’s fine in a pet project like this, my first fic (fanfic).
Excepting Livejournal fees and now a hosted domain, I have so far purchased two books and am now resisting a third. This isn’t including the peer-reviewed articles I had downloaded through the university library databases while a student, for which I paid through student fees. I won’t mention the sheer amount of time I’ve spend searching, reading, and archiving sites, both in English and Japanese.
Besides topical interest and time/monetary investment, however, this sort of thing is very much a personal investment. I don’t mean in the actual, topical sense, but that the entire composition is mine, even if the intellectual property of the series isn’t. Why go through all that trouble? I feel that a written work or any other personal project is only as good as what the creator invests in it.* For me to respect what I wrote, crep and all, I must know that I put into it as much as I could, within reason. If I say I’m after authenticity and character psychology, then I’d better give it my all; this, I believe, is especially true in a first-time experiment that’s both a personal test and individual creative expression.
I think the level of investment speaks equally for self-respect and respect-of-the-material. (There has to be some amount of pride here, but the trick is to not get carried away with it.) In my case, I’m aware that Japanese culture is very different from Western culture, and inserting brazenly Western things and assumptions** into a fanfic I’m trying to set in modern Japan just smacks of offensive ignorance. Online-based research definitely isn’t perfect, though–so many comparatively subtle things are never discussed online or translated, but I still have to try my best in major areas that are more obvious or important to how the story will develop. If you’re one of those creators who has a “baby” project into which you’re pouring as much effort as possible (within time and resource limits), then my hat is off to you.
As for the books, one is something that I think is quite on-topic: Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan by Mark Mclelland, 2005. Since it’s written by a Westerner, the language and content will certainly be accessible.
* This is also why I feel plagiarists should have their fingers smashed and eyes stabbed out, but that’s just me. ^_^
** Here’s a pet peeve: I found some forum threads where some kid asks how homosexuality is treated in Japan, for example, and some idiots say to the effect that “well, i read this manga and watched this anime and they had gay ppl so it must be okay!” Seriously, what the feck?