Assumptions of the Third Kind


There are times when I write that I find myself using a particular phrase or word I associate with someone I know. It doesn’t mean I’m writing about them, but instead some nuance or characteristic stood out to me and found its way into my story, whether it be a piece of flash fiction or a poem.

I think people who are nonwriters don’t quite grasp this. They make assumptions if they know a writer personally that the work is about them or someone in particular they know. Believe me, if I thought that highly of someone to want to include them in a story, I’d pay homage in a much more meaningful way such as using their initials for a character’s name or dedicating a book or story to them. In other words, they would know they inspired the work – they wouldn’t have to wonder. I really don’t do ‘revenge writing’ to get back at people I know personally who irritate the living fool out of me, and there are plenty who do. I may write a poem that expresses some negative truth I’ve experienced but as far as stories go, if you’ve irritated me in some way, you won’t find yourself showing up in a story of mine. I wouldn’t waste the creative energy it takes to put that much effort into it, a.k.a., you’re not worth it. I can’t help it if you happen to relate on some deeply personal level to a characteristic or behavior that’s less than desirable. That’s an issue for you and your shrink.

It’s impossible for me, though, to separate my experiences and feelings from the writing. Somehow, one way or another, bits and pieces, no matter how transformed, end up making an appearance. It’s very cathartic for me to express how I’m feeling through a character. However, in no way does it convey a full picture of truth. After all, this is fiction I write, and I enjoy the hell out of it.

I write what comes to me, pure and simple. I don’t always understand it myself or where it comes from, hence the video reference above, but I know it’s important or it wouldn’t be pushing to make its way out into the world. If it happens to resemble you or your life in some way, let me say now, it probably isn’t. Of course, only me and the ink really know the truth, but the ink is drying and I’m not telling.

13 responses »

  1. So well said. I hope when some of my stuff gets out there, people don’t read themselves into the characters. It is fiction, pure and simple. That’s not to say my own thoughts and feelings aren’t incorporated–how could they not be?–but the characters are pure fiction, and if based on anyone at all, they are more a conglomeration of different personalities.

      • That’s the luxury of being an introvert. I don’t interact much with people face-to-face, so if they jump to conclusions, I won’t have to be privy to them. 😉

      • Smart girl 🙂 I’m naturally reclusive myself but when I am social I’m very social, and when I’m hibernating you won’t find me anywhere 🙂

  2. Being a writer of speculative fiction, I’m wondering if I have it easier than some. I can’t imagine how I’d ever have a conversation like:

    Outraged Friend: “Dude. Do you really think of me as an undead sorcerer from beyond the grave bent on the destruction of all life beneath the claws of carnivorous zombies?”

    Me: *raises an eyebrow* “Um…yeah…that’s totally you, man. How did you figure it out?”

    But you never know. People can surprise 🙂

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