The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer
mnfaure

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Standing confessed

First you must read pjthompson's blog entry and then this will make sense. 

I think that as you pointed out, PJ, this is a sweeping statement, and yet, I do see truth in it. For me, confessing oneself in one's work is almost inevitable unless you work very consciously to create believable characters that think differently than you do. All strawmen and shallow villains aside, I think that even in the creation of characters who in no way resemble you personality- or action-wise, you still put your prejudices, your dislikes, et al, into them to the point where they do, in fact, reflect you. Your bad guy is a racist because you don’t condone racism. That is a reflection of you; not *you* but your views. If you didn’t want to say that racism was bad, you probably wouldn’t have given your antagonist that attribute. And being the good writers that we are, we don’t want one-dimensional characters, so we throw some strengths into the bad-guy mix. If it is supposed to be a strength that will make them good, according to you, then it has to be a strength you buy into. Am I making sense? My achy head says, Eh, maybe.

I agree with what </font>everyonesakitty said about acting, but I’ll add a caveat. If you want the performance to be believable, if you want people to be sitting on the edge of their seats and really agonizing about whether or not Betty Sue is going to wear the red dress or the blue on her date with Billy Bob, you better hope to high heaven the actress has some experience in difficult-decision-making to draw on.

In your response, PJ, you mentioned that style can reflect the person, and I agree and disagree--though I realize you weren’t setting your comment in stone. :-) I think that a person has certain words, certain flavors and rhythms that come through in their writing, but change a simple thing like tone, narrator, and subject matter, and I think you could be surprised at things that were written by the same writer. The more marked the difference and the more profound the changes perhaps the greater the writer--on a skill and awareness level, I mean. So I think I’m in the same camp as </font>kmkibble on that one. And upon rereading Kev’s post, I don’t know that I just said anything original. I’ll also toss in my agreement on the subconscious level additions and, by the same token, omissions that we make to our writing.

And this post would not be complete without a quote of </font>merebrillante’s stunning comment: “Teh suck arrives when the writer ignores all real experience, and starts writing from vicarious experience.”
Wow. Let us all be silent and contemplate that gem of wisdom.

As you and I have discussed in our emails, PJ, I have certain issues with of a familial nature that are pretty hard to lay to rest. Today, I say I’m okay with that past, but upon discussing my fiction with friends and looking at several of my ideas objectively, one could argue that I still have strong feelings about one member of said deranged family. I *never* set out to write about these things. I don’t ask these ideas to come bubbling to the surface. I don’t seek to cast this person in a negative light, and yet the archetype pops up again and again. If I felt like being perfectly honest and open with myself--and it turns out I do--I would have to say that it is obvious that *some* part of me is still angry, hurt, confused.

And I guess that brings me around to my final point and the reason I’ve been thinking about this question myself. I believe that truly touching fiction is most often written by the people who have the guts to be honest with themselves, by those who, no matter that it hurts and is ugly, can poke around the cesspool of their emotional past and dredge up an experience from which they can write a character or situation that rings with veracity for the reader. Yes, I realize I’m using “truly,” “honest,” and “veracity” all together in the same sentence, but I do it with purpose. I think that in order to tell the truth in a way that makes people live emotions with your characters you have to draw on your own well of memories, the good and the bad. And when you do that, even if the situation goes from being sexually harassed in your real life to your character’s fictional rape, you are indeed putting part of yourself into your characters. You are standing confessed.

I don’t know about you, but that kind of scares me. Scares me so much I’ve tried writing from vicarious experiences, only scratching the surface of the safe stuff, and well, as Kim said, it rather resembles teh suck. However, I’m ready to start stripping--thank God I don’t mean literally--for my fiction. Let people judge me if they will. But when those, “Oh my,” thoughts start flowing, I hope there is some thread of, “She is *so* brave,” in there followed by a satisfied sigh of, “Wow. Now that was a story.”
Tags: that thing called writing
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