I’ve been asked fairly often if I write myself into the characters I create. And the answer is, of course and of course not. Ha!
None of my work is autobiographical, although I write to work through personal issues, both here on the blog and in my fiction. And sometimes my fiction will take me to a really personal, often painful place. Feelings I’ve buried because no one was listening or someone actively told me they didn’t want me to share tend to bubble up when I’m working on fiction at a tumultuous time in my own head. And that’s sort of happening now. My (not particularly bright and sunshiny) feelings are bleeding out in the fiction I’m working on (the sequel to my novella, Storm Chasing), and quite obviously in my last several blog posts.
Sometimes it feels like I don’t really know how I think or feel until I write it down.
Seriously though. Like a lot of my writing, this might end up being a long drive on the unmarked back roads.
Writing more about Bridget and David dredged up a lot of weight and body image and appearance issues and how they affect relationships with other people for me. My relationships in real life with J…my parents…my brother…my extended family…my girlfriends…are all colored in this insidious way I’d rather them not be by my body image and issues with food. It’s weird how intertwined food and social anxiety are for me, to be honest.
Food is a way people connect, and most of my friendships in real life are maintained by meeting people at restaurants to eat. Family gatherings are usually pot lucks with leftovers sent home. And I’ve already written about the warped ways, intentional or not, I feel manipulated by other people using food, and how trying to support and stay positive about myself and other people is complicated when it comes to weight and fitness and food. So Bridget and David have some relationship bugs regarding food and body image and how that affects them and other people and their general positive outlooks on themselves and life in general. It got personal.
And it’s not the first time I went into personal pain in a story. The Transition Piece starts out talking about my real life worst nightmare. Unscripted and Unedited explore severe social anxiety and writing fiction. Those are real places for me that come out in the fiction I write. But unsurprisingly, the same pieces I’ve written more personal pain into are the ones to which readers have had the most profound connections and emotional responses. So while I know some of my readers here on the blog may be put off or concerned about the past few posts, just know it not only fuels my fiction, but helps me greatly to write about the things on my mind. And even though sometimes it’s painful, when I reach deep into myself to unearth these feelings and rawness, people do tend to connect with me…through my writing…my essays and my fiction.
As much as I’ve never been the biggest Hemingway fan there ever was, he did say this, and there is obvious truth in it…
When I write hard and clear about what hurts, people respond. And I feel better. It’s cathartic, and it also helps me find the hidden gifts in the pain. It helps me figure out where I’m going. And it helps me connect with other people.