Skip to main content

The Perils of Research

A lot of writers make jokes about if someone saw their search history after researching a story - with good reason. I've looked up stuff like how to hire a hitman, or how to build a bomb, that sort of thing.

But what I don't see talked about as much is how dangerous research can be for you mentally. I was just looking up Tibetan sky burials for Messiah, read some descriptions, then saw there was video. The video warns you "Hey, look out, graphic content," but I'd read the descriptions, and I was prepared to see some dead bodies and vultures eating them.

What I was not prepared for was the bodies being skinned before the vultures got to them. I'd missed that part of the description, and holy shit that was something. Like, it wasn't just disturbing, it was startling. I wasn't expecting it at all; I physically recoiled away from the screen. Like seriously, I get it, I'm okay with it, but I don't want to look at it.

It did not wind up in my screenplay.

That probably wasn't the worst thing I ever found researching, though. The worst was definitely looking up stuff for The Suicide Club (or whatever I called it). That was some messed-up shit, there. I found chat rooms filled with people discussing methods of suicide, reasons they were committing suicide, what they were scared of... a lot of it seemed more like posturing than anything else (most of the accounts had been around for months, if not years), but in a way that kind of made it worse.

I wouldn't say it was depressing, more... I dunno. It felt wrong, somehow. Like how Lovecraft describes seeing the Elder Gods and whatnot - it's not like it's scary, or even weird, it just, like, doesn't fit with your human experiences. It's beyond weird. It's disturbing.