Monday, November 7, 2011

What Are We Really?


So, Krista sent a draft of a blog post to me and Amy because she talks about us in it. That was nice. Thoughtful. Maybe I'll return the favor.

See, I couldn't help but notice that Krista hardly mentioned herself. The post is about writing what you are, and she used me and Amy because we've written books that only we could have written.

I mean, I wrote a book combining suicide with unmanned vehicles and photography. In a lot of ways, it was the book I've always wanted to write. When it finally fell together and I came up with a plot, it was exciting. Writing was fun—if also depressing because of the subject matter and my own past. But Krista's right. It's definitely a book that only I could have written.

Here's the thing: Krista's novel (nicknamed Steve) is just as unique and personal. It's Frankenstein meets To Kill a Mockingbird and quietly powerful. The voice is wonderful and likable. It's a book that only Krista could write.

But...why?

Sure, the premise is interesting, but I don't think Krista has personal experience with regeneration or what it was like to be a kid in the fifties. It's not based on any sort of uncommon experience or situation from her life—at least not so blatantly.

Maybe this is where the really personal aspects of storytelling come in, the deeper things that Krista talks about in her blog post. To me, this means feelings. Specifically, hopes and fears.

Why hopes and fears?

Because that's what's on my mind as I write my current project. I have no personal experience with the collapse of society, building spaceships, or the end of world. What I have are hopes that something impossible really could happen. What I have are fears of losing those closest to me, frustration with not knowing, and the love of a father for little girls who have their own darkest fears.

These are things that many people share, yet are still deeply personal. Being a father or a mother, a friend, a lover—they're different for each of us. Unique.

So, yeah. Like she says, write what you know from experience, but especially write what you feel. And then use your imagination to make it interesting. That's what Krista did with Steve, and I hope I can pull it off with the novel I'm working on.

I've never faced the end of the world, but I'm a daddy and a husband, and that's what I'm really writing about.


(By the way, that character in my book who's handy with a camera? He's way better than I am. I plead guilty to one count of Mary Sue;)

4 comments:

  1. Isn't that the point of giving one of your characters a skill you posses? To make them better at it than you?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Writing what you feel is a wonderful corollary to writing what you are. Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and for, you know, the compliments).

    P.S. The first time I encountered the word "corollary" was in an abstract algebra class in college. My professor was British, so for several years, I thought everyone pronounced that word "ca-RAWL-a-ree." I didn't realize we Americans say it "CORE-a-lair-ee." :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. SO true.

    I think this is what I mean when I tell people to put themselves into their books. I finished with a book about a missing girl. I thought of all the friends in high school who were killed in accidents, to suicide, one murder. I didn't experience the same situation as my MC, but I remember feeling the loss of someone so young. I also remember not knowing with another friend. And we didn't know for a long time.
    I didn't write any of their stories. I didn't write anything close to any of their stories, but their stories and how I felt at that time, and the rougher crowd I hung with at the time, all played into it.
    It was the second most draining book I've written. But I love it :D
    And I"m feeling rambly tonight.

    ReplyDelete