Free week and I have been wondering about how people perceive other people’s writings.
If you know the life of the writer, do you assume that a scene or situation in their story is autobiographical if it comes close to what you know about them?
Carrie Fisher had to live down everyone thinking that she had shot at (ater ex-husband ) Paul Simon because in her semi-autobiographical novel and movie “Postcards From the Edge”, the main character shot at hers.
I have not only drawn upon scenes or situations in some of my stories, a few have been actually taken straight from my life. Some people know about them; some have no idea that most of it is verbatim.
Those don’t bother me or seem to perturb the people involved, as long as we agree on the facts.
Perhaps it is because I have written so much non-fiction and biographical pieces (including poetry) about others that true-life does not bother me.
However, with that knowledge in the open, a few other borrowed or ‘embroidered upon’ situations in my stories are taken as completely truthful, or in the case of some family members, fear of others assuming that they are totally factual.
What’s a writer to do?
To not use good characters, places and experiences one runs across is such a waste; to tweak them into a story is a part of the craft. Tweak them in a good way, someone may ‘correct me’; tweak them in an unflattering fashion and the same folks worry that others will see them in the story and think ill of them.
Tweak them for the protagonist and some think it must be my thoughts or actions and think ill of ME.
Have you run across this?
Are my family members overly worried? Paranoid? Perhaps, guilt-ridden? Quite possibly. I tell them to stop being so egotistical. Few people know them or would really care who the stories were about as long as it’s truly entertaining.
(Not that telling tales about me has ever deterred any of them, I might interject. I’ve often threatened to start wearing a jester’s costume when guests were present because my foibles have often been the evenings’ entertainments. Having been there, I would never purposely embarrass anyone.)
As I have mentioned previously, I don’t usually let family read my work before publication because they are terribly critical. The tendency runs in the family: Many writers, few publications and many talented people with great ideas, all of which have died before publication or implementation out of misguided fear of failure.
Not trying is automatic failure, but this they have never seemed to understand.
Well, fellow writers, has anything like this happened to you?
I am thinking about adding a bit more of my very personal experiences to my writing, drawing on some truly deep experiences. No one who reads any scene will know that it is a taken from my own experiences, so why not?
On the other hand, I have a story that I feel will be my first real novel, (A romance, which we’ll discuss next week), one that has many elements from my marriage, but more that are not. Is The Husband going to be concerned about other people’s perceptions when he reads it…probably.
Has anything stopped you from adding a truly personal experience to your works of fiction?
Have family or friends worried about people thinking that a close-to-life story or scene involved them?