A friend of mine recently commented on my ability to expose myself so openly in my writing. At first I wasn’t quite sure how to respond since I don’t think I do expose myself. I write fiction, not memoirs. I do, however, expose my characters. I work very hard to make them fully realized individuals, and hopefully I am successful, but they are not me. The truth is I am boring. I lead a normal life; married, four children, stable, stable, stable….Where’s the fun in writing about that? And who would want to read it? That’s the life I want to live not write. God help me if I ever do become one of my characters!
Some of the comments I’ve had over the years are startling, including those from friends. They go something like this: I didn’t know you were in psychotherapy, when were you in jail, I’m sorry about the incest you suffered, so you hallucinate? My favorite was from my husband who after reading a sex scene in Magel’s Daughter, said, “Okay, that’s not you and me, so who did you do that with?” It’s not me. It’s how a character, who is crazy, has sex. Good writing requires imagination and the ability to put yourself into another mind and body. Writing requires honesty, which can be frightening. I am a student of human nature and every thought and action generated by my characters needs to have a certain verisimilitude or readers will not engage them.
Years ago I worked with a writing coach and he gave me a piece of advise; write like no one will ever read it. This was terrific since at the time I was terrified by the thought of my mother reading my novel. By the way, she has read it, and she laughed all the way through the book. I will always try to be brave with my writing even if it offends, otherwise why do it?