Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Take The Writer Literally: A Rant. (Part 1)

I don't often mention this in public, but here goes: I'm in counseling for grief from my mother's death and a few other things. The reason I bring this up is that my counselor (awesome lady ::waves::) has read some of my work. Next appointment, we're going to discuss a few details of my characters..which inspired the post, but not the rant.

Before I rant, I shall say, a few subjects she wants to bring up made me think...especially a side character who had maybe three lines of dialogue and little significance to me at all. But we've gotten to know each other over several months, so maybe there's something in there.

Then there's the opinions of total strangers....

Let the rant commence:

I know most of you following this blog are writers. How many times do random people automatically assume one of your main characters is you? And doesn't it get irritating?

One of my main characters is a cheerful, fearless rock star with supernatural powers.

Another is a timid psychic who wants to be a counselor.

Another is a cynical, foul mouthed, beer swilling mechanic.

Another is an emotionally beaten down historical romance author.

And the list goes on.

But every time I describe one of these or any other female character, (which I think is odd, I mean, I identify with Harry and Harold better in the movies, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and HAROLD AND MAUDE...though Maude's my hero) ...anyway, someone always asks or states, "Is that you?"

NO! of me are. I always wanted to sing and play music. I used to be a mechanic. I worked as a caregiver for 5 years, and I am an author. I have been emotionally beaten down (who hasn't?). I can be fearless. I can be cheerful. I can be cynical.

As Stephen King said, (paraphrased) "there's a bit of me in every character," but none are me.
Really, I don't think it would be possible to write myself into a book anymore than to write someone else in one. People are too complex. I'll elaborate further in the next post.

Speaking of Stephen King... A friend told me she refused to read him anymore after reading MISERY. For those behind the times, it's about a famous author held hostage by a crazed fan demanding he write a sequel to a series in which the heroine died.

My friend took the story as an essay on how he felt about his fans. She thinks he hates us all. As a writer, I took it as the usual "What if" situation that comes to all writers.

Maybe Sai King started out with "What if," But in ON WRITING he bared his soul and told what he really meant: The crazed fan, Annie Wilkes, was actually a symbol for the torment of drug and alcohol addiction King was suffering at the time. "...and I was sick of being Annie's pet writer," he said.

Which goes to show you: The truth in fiction isn't usually what you think.


  1. That's what I hate when literary critics sit around and try to decipher what did the author mean when she wrote such and such. They guess. They make it logical by picking out words and symbols that fit their purpose. But here is my view: how the hell would they or anyone else know what did the author mean beyond whatever the story is telling them it means? If there is a deeper symbolism, other people can find their own meanings in it, but they CANNOT tell what the author's own deeper meaning was, because they are not mind readers.

    It extends to characters as well. How we come up with characters, and what parts of us are in there, majority of people are not in position to guess. Because as you say, people are too complex, and we go through so many emotions as we write - both in words and in life (depending on how your life is going at the moment of writing a particular novel), that I doubt even the author knows while she is writing what parts of her she is putting in there.

  2. Very well written post that touches on the inevitable issues that we as writers face, for example my mother thinks that every mother I write about angel or hellion is her. How can she be both? She also thinks that I am both my protagonist and my antagonist? Do I have to even be a fleck of any character in my books? I don't think so.

    Dolly wrote a well thought out comment. Good job Dolly and good job Brooklyn Ann for this wonderful post.



  3. Well said! I've also gotten the question about which character in my book is me and I tell them they all are. They're pieces of me, just like you said.

    What I really love is that people think my romantic male lead is my husband! For me, that kind of thing is private.

    I'm looking forward to the next part of your rant!

  4. LOL! I've had someone ask of one of my heroes was my husband. The cover model was actually Johnny Depp :)

    A friend read the post and told me he once wrote a story in which the MC had alcoholic parents. After reading it, a bunch of people offered to help him cope with the problem.