Last week, David Gordon of the New York Times wrote this really cool blog post entitled “Writing is a Risky, Humiliating Endeavor.” When I saw the title, my first thought was, “Huh?” But as I read, I found it fascinating that he put into words exactly what I feel each time I jot down an idea for a story, scene, or character, which is, “What will the people I know think of me if I actually published this?”I suppose it isn’t surprising that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Maybe it’s silly. If I write a story about a teenage girl with an abusive boyfriend, does it mean I’m modeling that off of my own experiences? No, of course not. But will my mother question whether I or someone I knew had an abusive boyfriend in high school? Maybe. This, along with the examples Gordon uses, such as the mother in his stories being killed off and his friends’ concern over his emotional health, made me realize two things:
1. This is an unavoidable side effect of writing, especially fiction.
2. I need to accept that, get over it, and move on.
Very often what writers write can echo their own experiences, making it difficult not to psychoanalyze as you read. Some take events in their own lives and use them in a story, like J.K. Rowling did when writing the Harry Potter books (as I mentioned in last week’s Monday’s Musings). Other authors, like Stephenie Meyer, might have a bizarre dream and think, “that might make an interesting story,” and write an entire series around it. Or some, like Suzanne Collins, draw inspiration from stories that have been around for centuries and combine them with modern fads. Inspiration varies from person to person. Dreams, emotions, pop culture, and history are just a few examples of where ideas can emerge, unexpected. The important thing is to write what you enjoy and not what you think will cause the fewest amount of friends or family to question your sanity.