Life, Memory, Identity, and Writing

As writers, we create worlds (even if those worlds are just like our own), and then populate those worlds with characters that we allow to run amok and cause all kinds of trouble, just so that we can tell some sort of story that we think people might want to read, in order to present some idea or ideas that we find relevant at that particular time.

Some of these characters are based on people we know, some of them are amalgams of many people, and some are embodiments of stereotypes and archetypes that are necessary for the advancement of the story we are trying to tell.

So, having based our worlds (however much or little) on our own, our characters on real people (however loosely or literally), what then becomes the glue that holds our little stories together?

We do.

OUR lives.  OUR past.  OUR opinions.

WE make the story go.  Everything we have ever done, seen, heard, said, felt, noticed, ignored, loved, and hated colors how the story is told.  Whether we are espousing an opinion or viewpoint that we believe or are using our life experiences and interactions to present a viewpoint/opinion that we truly cannot stand, everything that we, the author, has inside them, is what makes the story.  Our lives truly are reflected in the finished product, to some degree.

This is why it can be so hard for writers to kill off characters, or to abandon plotlines, or write a genre piece that we—as people—don’t necessarily like.  It’s like cutting off a piece of ourselves, or moving away from home for the first time, or grudgingly choosing the “lesser of two evils” in a given situation.  It is an incredibly emotional thing to do.

I wonder—if I’m right—if that can explain the difference between authors that write quickly and those that take longer.  Do the “quick” authors have the ability to compartmentalize those emotional instances better?  Do they have those emotional moments at all, or are they simply formulaic writers, plugging names and faces into a sausage maker and continually grinding out product for public consumption?

(Remember, this is just a generalization, and not an indictment/endorsement of any particular group of writers).

Are writers that take longer to complete a work more in-tune/susceptible to the influence of all of those moments that define us as we are writing?  Are they “more emotional” than quicker writers?

Does our identity as people color both the process of our writing as well as the end product?

Normally, I’d be able to come up with some funny quip here, but it is kind of a serious topic (not “you have cancer” serious, but “important to understanding our work” serious), and one that sticks with me because I tend to fall into the “slow” writer category.  I can’t write a story too fast or I feel like it gets away from me in terms of my even caring where it is going, whereas if I slow it down, I can feel the story and characters more, and that can slow me down even more as I try to dissect exactly what it is that is going on with both me and the story I’m writing in order to try to do justice to both the story and its eventual readers.

Sometimes, though, I must admit, the story can just grab me by the hand and drag me along with it faster than I might otherwise go, and I can remain invested in what is going on, care where it is going, and not feel like I am cheating myself or not “doing the work.”

That just might be the holy grail of writing.

Ok; I have been writing this blog for a few months now and I can tell when we’ve reached the point where I’ll just start rambling and repeating myself, so I’ll try to wrap it up here.

Yeah….No.  I got nothing.

Peruse, discuss, comment, share, or ignore.

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