I read an interesting post this morning by Cristian Mihai, who writes a blog full of good writing-related advice and the occasional quandary. Today he wrote about writers working to separate their work from their true selves, and why that might not always be the best plan.
This is something that resonates with me. I have always wanted to “be a writer”… that was the one thing I’ve ever been sure of. But I hesitated to ever write any of the things that mattered most to me for fear that I would be implicated in my own words, or worse — that I would drag in someone else from my life who didn’t necessarily want to be written about. I’ve come to realize that it is a risk that any writer must accept — that we may expose ourselves, or someone we love, through our work. I cannot write about a life and people that I don’t know. I can only imagine so much. I can only research so much. And I don’t think I’m alone. I would guess that even the most well-researched historical fiction must carry some part of the writer in it. A character, a trait, an experience, maybe. And if not, does the work feel “real”?
I’ve given up trying to keep myself separate. Instead, I’ve begun to embrace characters who have some of my quirks and those who seem to share common histories with me. I think I’ll do a better job writing about these kindred spirits than I would writing about someone who I purposely forced away from me.
That’s not to say that we, as writers, shouldn’t try to write a variety of people — a whole book full of Delanceys wouldn’t be terribly interesting.
What about you? Do you purposefully try to divorce yourself from your characters? Or do you find elements of your own life, loved ones and situations seeping into your stories?
Or that is what my self loathing side says at times like these. I took a two week vacation and then not two weeks later, took a four day weekend with my girlfriends in Chicago. Not much writing has been done in the last four weeks. Okay, actually? None. And it’s amazing how much further away I feel from the whole process. Like I’m on the shore and my ambition is on a raft floating further and further away… If I don’t dive for it soon, it might just fade over the indigo horizon…
And there are things in the way…many, many things. Work, for one. They seem to expect me to actually, like, do stuff. Go figure. And school. Not mine, two new schools for two very little kiddos. I know I should enjoy the discovery of all things new with them, but part of me looks forward to big kids who are just a tiny bit jaded, who don’t need to have me explain thirty times about what their new schools will be like, who their teachers will be and how many pencils they’ll have in their book bag. I know. I suck. I told you that.
On the up side, once the whole school thing is hammered out (should be getting smooth by mid-September…), I will be back in the groove, I think. I have, literally, six different projects in mid-stream. I need to choose one and focus, and then move forward.
And despite feeling like an almost complete failure lately, I just got notice that a story I wrote a while ago is live over at The Rusty Nail. Check it out!
I never win anything. Seriously, they could have a raffle going on, to which I have every ticket except one. They will call the number listed on the ticket held in the hand of the short sweaty man next to me every time. They will not, despite the overwhelming odds in my favor, EVER call any of the numbers on the nine hundred tickets I hold.
And this is why I am very honored to have been nominated for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”! (Wait, did I win? Or am I just nominated? When do they announce the winner?) Hmmm, it seems that perhaps I still have not won anything.
Nonetheless, I have been NOMINATED by Eternal Atlantis, a very cool blog written by fellow writer, Luciana, who lives in Australia and writes stories inspired by travels to Italy and Greece. Thank you, Luciana!
It seems that this honor does not come without strings. The rules are listed here:
- Link back to the person who nominated you: Thank you so much Luciana!
- Post the award image to your page.
- Tell 7 facts about yourself.
- I spend an inordinate amount of time playing with Lego.
- I am a recovering personal trainer. (Also recovering wine salesperson, travel writer, pharmaceutical sales rep and technology marketing director.)
- I’m a tech writer in my ‘real’ life.
- I’m a military spouse.
- I’m a wine snob.
- I’m a ballet dancer.
- I love corn dogs.
4. Nominate 15 other blogs. Wow. 15. Okay: some of these aren’t writing-related… I do have other interests, you know…
- Poeta Officium – she’s probably already won this one. Unlike me, I think Virginia wins stuff…
- Be Not Afeard
- Molly Writes
- Novels from the Ground Up
- Rae Spencer
- Live to Write, Write to Live
- Bohemia Speaks
- Daniel J. Davis
- JQ Trotter
- The Misanthropic Hostess
- The Selfish Seamstress
- Think Liz
OK. Maybe this is why I don’t win stuff. I don’t follow the rules. I’ve only got 13. There are certainly 2 more deserving blogs out there. (But I’m at work and can’t surf anymore. Actual work, etc. GAH!)
Thanks again, and congrats to my own lucky nominees (who now I think I have to email and alert. More time sucking… I may have to delay that… argh! need. more. hours. in. day.)