Recently, I read a story about a reader approaching M.J. Rose and saying, "So you’re a sex therapist, that must be fun ..." To which she replied, "No, I’m an author who writes about a character who is a sex therapist."
But the freaky part about writing, I find, is that truths sometimes shine through.
I never take someone I know and bend and twist them into something else. I just come up with a person. I don’t know where from. I think I start with their emotion, or their inner conflict first. So in that way, I can definitely say that there is no fact about any of my characters.
The other day, Erica Orloff asked about families in our lives and families in our character’s lives on her blog. I answered, and in answering, realized that my current character has only a fuzzy impression of her biological mother.
Which I, until that moment when I typed it, didn’t connect at all with the fact that I have only a fuzzy impression of my biological mother.
Yes, there was a story I was once very honest in, down to actual details, but I was feeling rather "safe" under my pseudonym and the cloud of fiction.
But when it happens accidentally? It’s sort of freaky and scary. I mean, what other deep, dark secrets are spilling out from my subconscious that I’m unaware of?
Not that the fuzzy impression is a deep, dark secret, but can you at least follow my paranoia?
Truth and lies fascinate me, probably because I love spy novels, LOL. There’s so much humanity and emotion and inner and outer conflict in spy novels; it’s like a goldmine for a writer.
One thing I learned from someone I was barraging with research questions, was that the most effective lie is a truth. You have to change this or that, but the less you actually lie, the better.
Writing fiction is like lying, but to do it effectively, we must keep as much as we can true, like details and emotions and humanity.
Which is why I think some readers get confused, why authors send out mixed messages "It’s me! It’s not me! It’s true! It’s a fictitious character! It’s real! That’s not real!"
And most just blanket deny and say that everything they write is fiction. Less misunderstanding that way.
I don’t know where I’m going with all this thinking, except to say that sometimes I’m appalled at how something I write has a parallel to my truths, how it sometimes shows me how my deep subconscious feels about something, even if it’s all warped and twisted and fictionalized.
When I realize that, I get a sick feeling in my stomach and wonder if everyone can see the parallels. And I also wonder what other truths make their way into my stories, truths I don’t realize I’m sharing, even in their disguised form.
Ever get paranoid about that sort of thing? Ever trip up on a detail you’ve included, that you suddenly realize might shed light on your subconscious?
And do all authors spend way too much time trying to figure out their own mind and the minds of those around them?