It gives me the opportunity to paint beautiful pictures with words, and one of the best parts of that is I can tell the story however I choose. That freedom can be exhilarating. If I am writing a section of dialog and suddenly realize "he wouldn't say that", I can change it. It's just that simple, and in my opinion that means that I have the ability to really get that conversation right, and bring the story to life just as it should be.
In many ways, that artistic freedom makes writing novels easy. Okay, it's not easy- it's a ton of work, but it also give me an immense amount of respect for non-fiction writers, especially those who specialize in documentary and historical writing. In a nutshell, they have to keep their facts straight. That is something that, from a factual standpoint, I don't have to worry about.
Sure, I have to keep the details of my own narrative accurate to the story, and I sometimes have to do research to make sure that those detail make sense if the story involves actual places or things that exist outside of the story. If a character is traveling from Las Vegas to Cleveland by bus, I will take the time to research how long that should take and what cities most routes travel through. If that's a two day journey, I can't make it a four day journey in my story without inserting a reason as to why that happened. Well, I could, but my readers would call me on it. But that is nothing compared to the effort put in by historical writers who dig into the untold stories of the Civil War, for example, or the writers who bring us biographies.
As a fiction author, I have to put myself into the mind and heart of my characters, but biographical authors take that to another level. They are telling us the story of the life a REAL PERSON. Talk about pressure! Their subjects have friends and family who one day may read that book and know instantly whether the author told the story accurately or not. If their subject is still living, they might read it themselves. One would hope that the subject would have worked with the author in those cases, but we all know that isn't always how it works. Again, the pressure to create an incredibly beautiful piece of work that is accurate as well has to be incredible at times, and the thought alone terrifies me a little bit.
If people get as bent out of shape as they do over whether or not Han Solo shot first, they get even more out of whack when political histories of our country are written inaccurately.
So to the non-fiction writer, I tip my hat to you. You have earned my respect, and all I can do is hope that when you head for the beach with a good novel to lose yourself in, I can give you something that you will respect in equal measure. Thank you for all you do.