As a writer, I find it hard to separate myself from the characters, places, actions, etc that go into a piece. And in reading other writers’ stories, I ask myself “How much of the writer is in this?”
Where is the line drawn on where real life inspiration stops and fiction starts? How much non-fiction is too much, if at all? I know there isn’t and shouldn’t be a clear, definite answer to these questions. There are too many factors to consider and each writer and story is different.
What I’m really getting at is that fiction is an interesting beast. Some people will say that you can’t put yourself in your work; you can’t write yourself into a character. Other people will tell you to write from experience. There are many bits of advice from places in between, as well. In the end, I’m support a stance of “Write what’s comfortable for you. Be true to where the story leads…” etc, etc.
While I struggle with this in my writing, the little that does make it onto paper, it keeps popping into my mind when I read other authors’ work. This is evident in last week’s A Storied Week post. With a few of the stories, I had a good idea that the author’s life was a strong influence to the piece. It strengthened the characters and realism. So it was a good thing for those stories. Though, if this even something to think about as a reader? Should I be trying to compare a fact about a writer to what’s written in his/her story?
So where does this leave me, as a writer? I don’t really know. I find more often than not, when I sit down to write, I put myself on paper. Not exactly ME, but a character who is either like me, or I wish I was more like, in a situation I’d like to be in, or something along those lines. I’ve found it hard to actually create something that wasn’t strongly influenced by something real. This isn’t, in itself, an issue for most stories. Some might even say that I could go on writing like this and readers wouldn’t know or care one way or another. But I’d know. I’d know that when I was rereading something, that it was more a (for lack of a better term) personal fantasy; a dream on paper.
How does a writer go from being, in a way, unoriginal, to creating characters, places, and events out of thin air? I’m not sure. It obviously comes much easier to some authors. Other authors struggle I’m sure, just like we struggle with much that has to do with writing. I guess I just need to take the leap. Put the pencil down on paper and just let it be what it is, and leave it for the first revision session. Or maybe I just need to buy some imagination. Does anyone know where they sell that?
Readers, what are your thoughts? Writers, you too. As I said, I don’t think there’s anything but a grey area when it comes to defining a rule for this. Everyone’s different and works better with one technique than another one. As I get a little more serious this year as I attempt to work on some more fiction, I’ll need as much advice as I can take, haha. Poetry comes so much easier to me. Maybe I just need to go back to school.