Funny thing happened tonight. This is going to sound seriously lame to all of you Real Writers out there, but here goes:
I decided to start writing the truth, and suddenly it's not hard to write.
Remember Red Carpet, formerly 44D? It's a WIP that I started more than a year ago, at a writers' conference. It was a good idea, but I had a hell of a time making it work. I had created a setting I knew nothing about, a character I couldn't relate to, and an environment that even I wasn't convinced by. But I was totally in love with the *idea*, the central theme of the story, which was about fandom. It was important to me, but I wasn't willing to admit *why* it was – which was because I am, of course, a fan.
It just didn't work. I've tried over and over to rewrite it, and I get no closer to the story I'm trying to tell. And then it dawned on me that I'm going to such extreme lengths to disguise the fact that this is *me* that I can't touch the actual story underneath the disguise.
So I tried again tonight, only this time I told the truth about what the character thinks and feels – I put *me* on the page – and it was *easy.* I even stuck in some little factual details here and there.
See? You real writers are saying “Uhhh… DUH. Hasn't anyone ever told you to write what you know?”
Yeah, of course they have, but I didn't get it. It's astonishing to me that I could completely miss the point for so long. I figured I didn't know *anything* well enough to write about it, which is why I write fantasy and horror, because they're completely made up. Yes, I now understand how completely stupid that is.
A friend of mine called me on that a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about someone else's bizarre upbringing, and a bit of it happened to coincide with my own, and I said so. My friend looked at me wide-eyed and asked “What are you doing writing these little fantasy stories when you have stuff like *that* to write about?!”
The truth? Fear. Fear of being found out, of being revealed, of being accused of taking myself too seriously, of being seen and judged. Well screw the fear. I'm not writing what's important to me because of fear, and that's not fiction, it's bullshit.
So now the smell of the leather jacket is actually my ex-fiance's jacket from 15 years ago. The awful conference that the MC attends is the stupid circle-jerk that my former employer put on at a posh resort four years ago. The lists of overused words were made by both a colleague and my husband within the last month.
I haven't done that in the last eight years or so – put real experiences in a story.
Yes, I'm serious.
See? I'm a total fraud. What kind of writer goes to those lengths to hide?
This one still has a fantasy element to it (I think we're calling this Magical Realism these days, aren't we? I can't keep up.) I imagine they all will, because that's what I love. But it'll be interesting (to me, at least) to see what I produce from here on out.