Revelation #5: Research is key. I checked the tide tables and lunar calendars so that everything was legit. (I'm an astronomy hobbyist, so things like this are interesting to me.) I didn't want anyone to say, "You know, if you're in Boracay in mid-March and there's a new moon, the tide would have risen too high for them to be walking along this particular stretch of Station 1 at 10 in the evening."
Even if I am Aklanon, I still tried to double-check my info. All the places mentioned in the novella are places that I had previously visited but I found myself asking a lot of questions. Has it changed since I was last there? I'm situating a particular event there; is that even possible? Research helped me clear up my assumptions and allowed me to remain within the realms of reason.
I realized that it wasn't about how accurate I was at replicating real life, but how I can make the story feel like a realistic experience for the reader.
Location, location, location! This made research fun.
Revelation #6: It's challenging to make authorial intent and reader expectations meet. It was particularly challenging for me since I tried writing from a male perspective! My beta readers and editors are all different, which means they also have different views on how guys should act and behave. Their insights and observations had me questioning myself a number of times throughout the writing process. Believe me, even after the final chapter had been written, I still have the same questions. Never-ending fears!
So why did I persist in writing a male POV? I believe this particular story called for it. I don't think it would have worked if I had written from my LI's point-of-view, because I think that would have been a bigger challenge for me, so much that I was likelier to get her voice wrong than to get it right. I also didn't want to switch genders; I thought a guy would have been too unsympathetic in the LI's role. There was far too much power in that role (at least in my story) that making the role masculine would have tipped the balance. So it wasn't just a whim. I wanted to try telling this story, and this to me felt like the best way to do it.
Revelation #7: I got by with a little help from my friends--and not just from the writing group. A lot of this I wouldn't have done without my reluctant consultant Da Kyong, whom I met at just the right time.
I'm not in my twenties anymore, so I was pretty lucky that I spent part of the summer hanging out with fresh college graduates, most of them sociology and anthropology majors. They treated me like an ate, so in a way I felt that I was getting in touch with the sort of people my MC would befriend. I was able to visit several small collections and exhibits thanks to them; in fact, the Anding Torres collection in my novella is patterned after a collection inside a university library, one that I would not have had access to if it weren't for them.
Revelation #8: Writing is hard work, but it shouldn't be all about hard work. I'm glad that I still greatly enjoyed this whole process. It really tested and inspired me and I'm going to try applying what I learned to my still-unfinished mystery. So thank you again, Mina! No matter what happens to this one, I have really learned a lot. Someday I hope to see a novella of mine on a shelf next to yours.