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Friday, January 31, 2014

Putting Myself Into Writing: Why I write, the emotions I write from, and who I write for

First of all, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone for being supportive of me after my little freak-out last post. I had a bit of an irrational moment of self-doubt, nothing a bit of venting and good friends couldn't fix. 

One of my uni friends who read my last post got in touch with me last night and we had a good conversation about writing. We discussed how we subconsciously put parts of ourselves, including our experiences, opinions, emotions, and even our personalities, into our writing and our characters. Once I thought about it, I was a little shocked by how much of myself I'd revealed in WALLS. Of course, WALLS is a work of fiction, and I didn't deliberately put in those pieces of myself. Only people who know me really well would be able to find all the similarities. There are some obvious things. For example, after reading the first chapter my friend said he could see a lot of me in the character Mildred. I'm not entirely sure how to take that, because I think Mildred is a bit of a nasty b-word in that first chapter... but I get where my friend is coming from in a sense (does that make any sense?). 

A part of the conversation was discussing why my world-building might have been hindered while writing the first draft and I think we came up with some good theories: why I'm writing; the emotion(s) I'm writing from; and who I'm writing for. 

I have been writing with mid-late teen characters, because I relate to them easily. I fit into that age bracket and I know what sort of things happen to them and go through their heads, and I'm surrounded by others of that age who give me examples outside of myself. I write a lot of teenage angst, because I know it and want people to understand it and how to deal with it, even if I'm using fictional characters and circumstances. Therefore, I sometimes write from unstable emotions, even though I'm writing fiction. In a first draft, my focus is on the characters rather than their world and I tell myself I can come back to correct the imbalance later. Realising the seriousness of that imbalance is probably what stressed me out and made me doubt myself. Now it's a matter of being rational and distancing myself from the initial emotional splurg of a first draft to look at the writing objectively. 

As for who I'm writing for, it hasn't been for myself very often lately. NaNo'13 was probably the first time I've written for myself in a long while, because I've otherwise been writing for uni assignments (workshop classmates and tutors), Deakin publication opportunities, or for people on my blog. In those circumstances, I hold back and cut myself short to stop things from getting too long or sounding ridiculously unprofessional and overemotional. I've become so used to writing to a formula that the idea of writing for myself without one, or at least without the formula I'm used to, left me feeling a little in-over-my-head when I got to the end of that first draft and realised how much needed fixing. 

It's only a first draft and it doesn't matter if the world-building wasn't top-notch from the first word. Everything that needs fixing can be fixed in re-drafts and I shouldn't worry so much about everything and doubt myself. I wrote a novel, a first draft of over 88,000 words, in less than 40 days. That's an achievement. If I can do that much, I can make it the rest of the way. 

Have you ever subconsciously included something real and personal in your writing? Why do you write? What emotions do you write from? Who do you write for? 

- Bonnee. 

8 comments:

  1. I didn't think that was bad, as far as freak-outs go, but good for you for hashing it out with your friend and getting to some of the root of the problem.

    I think we always include something real of ourselves, even if we're working hard not to. I've found elements of my personality scattered throughout my writing, in multiple characters in the same work, and I've also used some people and events as the basis for happenings in my stories. I do work hard to make sure there are no straight-up copies of people and events, however; fiction is far more interesting than reality, hah ha. Have a great weekend!

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    1. I don't think there's anything WRONG with putting some of yourself in your writing, as long as there aren't straight-up copies in fiction as you say. Readers have to be able to relate somehow after all. But that's the thing; fiction is more interesting that reality. So we take something real and turn it into something more. Hope you're weekend is lovely, thanks for visiting.

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  2. That's an AWESOME achievement, and you should be so proud of it. You can - and will - make it the rest of the way, too! :)

    I often include personal tidbits in my writing -- sometimes little details, sometimes anecdotes from my own life, sometimes special memories I shared with people. I find myself doing it a lot with my WIP. The relationship between my MC and her grandmother plays a huge role, and even though their circumstances are completely different from my family, it's been so wonderful to infuse their bond with some of the moments/memories I had with my Gram. It almost makes it feel like she's still here with me. :)

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    1. I remember reading something on your blog regarding your WIP and your Gram. It's great that you've been able to incorporate that part of yourself into your writing.

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  3. I agree that writing 88K words in 40 days is an awesome achievement. I also think that it's great that you include parts of you in your novel. Afterall you are a teenager (not for long ..:) writing for teenage readers. What you feel and think, they feel and think (most of them) so they can relate to Mildred. For readers to relate to the main character they have to feel that she is authentic and real, and by putting parts of you in her, you make her real. I was smiling when I read "teenage angst" because I have this word in a chat between the teenager and her mom in my second novel. I don't have myself in my novels, but I put my views about life in the novels, especially the second one. And don't worry if Mildred is somehow nasty and unpleasant in the first chapter. Readers like to read about read people and many literary agents are asking for characters with flaws. Just having Mildred nice is boring. Showing her good and bad sides is more interesting to read. Don't doubt too much about your novel. Nobody write perfect novel and even authors of famous published novels will tell you that they can go now and rewrite some parts to make it better. Only practical advice I can offer (best of my experience in querying) is to make the first pages as best as you can do, because that's what professionals will read. Ask your friends after they read the first 2 pages: Do you want to continue reading and if they say No, ask them why? As I posted before a few times, at your age you are way ahead of most authors so you only congratulate yourselves for doing so well. Your best is yet to come !

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    1. I'm in agreement that there's nothing wrong with including parts of myself in my writing, as you said it makes it easier for readers to relate. Some of my views on life have crept in there two, but they've been placed a little more deliberately. I wanted Mildred to have flaws when I established her, and even at the end when she's a developed character. She's stubborn and proud. Hm, maybe she really is me. I'm continuing to work on making the opening as strong as it can be, before it goes out to agents. Thanks for your encouragement and support, Giora :)

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  4. I try to separate myself from my fiction, except when I'm writing (clean, YA) romance. In that case I'll use little seeds taken from real life. I write because I enjoy having written, if that makes any sense. It's not always fun while I'm doing it, although after the first 100 words or so it gets easier. I write from an eclectic bunch of emotions, depending upon the story. I write for other people typically. My aim is to entertain and make people feel things.

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    1. That makes sense to me, and getting started is always the hardest part. I hate stopping part-way through writing something, because it means I have to face that hard part of starting the next time I sit down to continue. Thanks for visiting, Patrick.

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