Fiction Is My Truth

Image By-Antonio Bolfo/Reportage by Getty Images

Writing Too Close To The Truth

When I first began writing this novel I was moved by a person, a life and a family- the greatness of it, tragic and beautiful. I befriended a long time veteran of the police force, and in return I learned about a world and a life I had never given a second thought to. Each time we spoke I would quietly listen to stories of life altering experiences that dealt with two decades of witnessing the ugliest most part of people- both horrific and heroic.

With a new found respect, I was inspired by his strength and in awe of their steadfast dedication and endurance to keep waking up each morning to do it all over again, it became one of the many reasons why I began writing my novel.

Obviously I’m aware of the origins of my story, however not since the beginning stages of my writing had I really thought about the difficulty I had when trying to create fiction from something real. It wasn’t until one of my a brief #ROW80 updates that I thought about the muses that inspire so many of our stories.

We’ve all heard at least once in our life, in order to be great or begin to be successful you should write or talk about the things you know. This concept can be applied to many professions including writing.

Even during a fiction writing class, I recall my instructor saying that most first-time writers in some way shape or form often write stories and create characters that are composites of themselves and their own lives.

Knowing I could write about the experience that moved me enough to start writing again; I took to my computer and created the outline to my novel. The first few months of writing began as a page-by-page biography of sorts. I didn’t mean to be so literal as I didn’t want my story to be a work of non-fiction. The anonymity and trust of my Muse was and will always be extremely important to me.

With this in mind, I wanted my story to contain the seminal feelings and ideas that moved and inspired me when I first felt and heard them. I just didn’t know how to go about it.

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.-Stephen King

Take Stephen King as an example. The protagonists in a large number of his fictional worlds are writers, and the settings take place in and around Maine (where he lives). His writing tends to carry a constant theme of isolation, either through the physical state his characters live in or within the internal conflicts they struggle with; this can be seen as a parallel interpretation to a writers life as they create. But these are not literal translations of his own life. Even when you read his book “On Writing” you can see how both similar and dissimilar his works are to him as a person. However, they still carry the essence of who he is, almost like a marker that says hey “That’s a Stephen King story’.

So, a few months into my own writing I began to take a hard look at my inspiration. I started pulling apart the cogs that created the structure that stood in front of me. By doing so I began to understand the foundation that built the real world I felt inspired by. The concrete and mortar was made up of universal truths, most of which we have all experienced at one point or another in our own lives.

It was the idea of family and the potential dysfunction of it; the experience of love and betrayal, the concept of fear and regret; purpose and loss; identity and legacy. These were the ideas and feelings I wanted to write about.

Soon I realized that my story needed to be more than changing names and locations. I began creating a world and a cluster of people that contained their own realities. The causalities of my main character wouldn’t be the same as any one person I knew in my life, but of the experiences, thoughts and feelings that I knew could happen depending on the choices I decided he/she would make in the story.

Now I’m beginning to understand that we contain a full catalog of knowledge both real and imagined, each tucked away within the fibers of our brains waiting to be called upon. Our minds contain countless hopes, dreams, observations of life and experiences- each available to us as we create the worlds within our stories.

So, still using as an outline the initial inspiration that lit the fire under me to write, the story that I’m creating today has become a mosaic of all the people I’ve met, information that I’ve read, watched and learned over the span of my lifetime. The words that I write are ideas that I imagine and some things that I have been witnessed to. It contains small nuggets of experiences and feelings that I have felt as a child and as an adult.

Either through writing prompts, a picture, a song, a news article, a scent, a person we may meet or even through something we have touched, I believe we have most of the tools needed to begin creating a great fictional piece of literature…even if it’s based on something real.

She Had Given Him Her Entire Life In Those Final Moments…

(Snippet Of My Novel- A Work In Progress)

The game was running into overtime as his mind wandered. There were moments that seemed to blur. His thoughts, reality and not, all jumbled into one very real alternate universe. It was sometimes difficult to discern time.

“Look there, my son” he thought.

Seeing him now, a young man of fifteen. Fifteen? Juan shook his head as if to rewind back time. It was impossible to escape the ever lingering sensation he felt when looking at his son. It was the sense of accomplishment and one of awe. His son on the soccer field was the same 7 pound 5 ounce baby that once entered the world from his wife’s body to then be placed into his arms—both warm and small.

And now here was, his son gliding across the vast expanse of the green field and blue sky, confident and strong. Juan reminds himself how fortunate he is. He had finally brought something good into this world, uncorrupted and untainted.

Robbie had been born during a time when fathers had just been allowed into the delivery rooms. He could recall the mosaic of sounds that beeped from the many machines monitoring her and the baby’s heartbeat. The piercing smell of bleach and blood that seemed to linger in the air fueling the thought of life and death. Giving and taking, both intermingled together in one place.

It was their third try. It hadn’t been easy. She didn’t want this. He knew it. But he pushed just like he always did. They both believed they needed this to mend a marriage; to consummate something beautiful and permanent despite the obvious seams that had been fraying at the edges.

In some ways he knew it was over. The last battle for their love was won and lost by his wife Rosaline. Juan felt the moment during his son’s birth when she broke away from him. She was there, she was smiling, she was holding his son, but she had already left him.

She had given him her entire life in those final moments; each year passing with every push.

As she grasped his hand to bear down for the final time, out came the last string of love that lied between them both, now beating in the soul of his son.

Robbie was the last gift of her youth, her independence and her innocence, all given to him. Just as he had always received everything he had asked for, whether given freely or taken by demand.

Now, looking at the face of his son as he kicked the black and white paneled ball in mid-air, it didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t mean anything but what was in front of him in these moments.

Killing Off My Main Character…..

I guess this is a spoiler alert.  However, by the time I edit this crazy draft, find & get an agent, then  with some luck have it published you would have forgotten any of this. Why? Because I’m very sure it will be many years from now that any of this will happen  LOL!!!

During a recent NaNoWriMo write-in I met a fellow writer who asked me why was I going to kill my main character. In so many words she asked  if I was killing him because he was a ‘bad’ person.

I smiled inside because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  He is a ‘good’ person, a man deserving love and a happy life, but in this case not an ending one would expect or want in a story for their main character.  Sometimes things are too broken to be fixed.

Life and the choices we make as individuals often leads us down a path to the inevitable, in this case death.  My character’s hurt has corrupted their ability make the change needed to do more than survive—to truly live. Allowing the pain to be the only thing that defines them. It may sound harsh, perhaps it is, but it is the one truth I know in the story’s outcome I created.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life meeting all types of people from all walks- off the beaten path so to say.  As a psych major, I choose a field of study that would help give me the tools needed to empower individuals enough to help them make the choices that would improve their own lives. This lead to a 12 year chosen career path as a counselor to teens, parents, alcoholics, heroin addicts, and HIV/AIDS patients. In that time, even as I looked at my own life, I began to understand there comes a point in a person’s life where the window for change becomes narrower and narrower.

Once a person passes that “Fork in the Road” and neglected to make the proverbial correct turn,

  • not taking that Leap of Faith and trusting even when others had shown them otherwise,
  • not embracing the love they found in a place they weren’t expecting,
  • not leaving the job that has caused them more misery than the security it provided,
  • not leaving that relationship,
  • saying No instead of Yes,
  • saying Yes instead of always No.

If we didn’t step into the unknown rather than settle for the familiar, it can become too late, as in the instance of my character’s story arc.

We are creatures of habit and within that there is a layer of fear of the unfamiliar and unknown.  I believe this fear leaves us in the soppy mess that we often find ourselves in. A dirty, unhappy but very comfortable place. Why?  Because this is what we know, what we are familiar with—it therefore becomes the only truth we believe in, because anything else, anything better, is not possible or to be lived by others.

By no means am I trying to simplify our lives and say that we are filled with a multitude of  choices by which we always turn a blind eye to.  What I do believe is that there is always a moment in our lives, however small or large that we do have an opportunity to choose; a decision that can either let the door crack open just enough to let the breeze in or simply see and experience something different.

I am not an blind optimist but I am always hopeful. Innately, I have always been a person that listened and cared when others don’t. I’ve often been let down or consumed with the pain of others—of individuals when they themselves don’t seem to be aware of or want to think about what they actually might be facing. Even with this, I remain ever hopeful.

Within the story I’ve created, it is my hope through witnessing my protagonist’s death the ones closest to him will value life and learn the lessons that needed to be learned. I see the main character of my story as the visionary—the poet and the one that needs to die.

I think it was said best by Michael Cunningham in his book The Hours-

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast”  – Virgina Wolf

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Why I Write….

Because as I see and feel both pain & love, I want and need my experiences to become words that exemplify the beauty in both - 

- Natasha Guadalupe

‘The ringing bells of the piragua cart…

‘The ringing bells of the piragua cart clicked clacked down the cobbled stone streets of Casica Blvd. They chimed the ugly truth that began to penetrate his mind.

It seeped through his skin like the cherry stained lips of school children licking the shaved mountains of ice. Each sparkling flake of snow flying out into the same sun that pressed upon his exposed face- blinding him from focusing on anything other than the past.’
--Sitting in a restaurant on Ashford Avenue, Condado Puerto Rico. I took this picture while writing this passage from my novel. It felt good.

Grants & Money for Writers/Artists

As much as I would like to say that I am full-time published writer, traveling from one city to the next on book tours, negotiating with producers for movie right deals….Alas no,  this is not the case.

I actually work full-time at a university as a grants (federal and private  foundation) administrator.  I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life cultivating private donors, researching and writing many grant proposals; each in an effort to obtain funds for many great non-profit programs I believe in, many of which work with the communities  that mean the most to me… Youth & Teens, HIV/AIDS programs and of course for Artists.

YES, I’ve been able to secure large amounts of funds (yup, a lot of $$) for non-profit organizations and groups over the years.. However, now that I am finally doing what I want to do most I’ve been trying to translate this skill  to help myself as a new writer.

Well, it’ has not been easy to say the least. Competition is high and resources are always limited. So in my research and learning this ‘new’ craft of trying to find funding I thought I share some of the things I have found…maybe something that may not work for me may work for you…..

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Leave a comment or send email,  I will try my best to help. OR if you have info to share GREAT!!!!

WHAT WILL BE LISTED HERE? 

  • Info on Fellowships
  • Info on Grants
  • Helpful Links
  • Info on Proposal Writing Tips
  • Info on Free Writing or Artist Contests

STAY TUNED AN UPDATE WILL BE POSTED SOON on the top Home Page!!

My story takes place in the state of Washington

My story takes place in the state of Washington.  More specifically Bremerton and Bainbridge Island.  I wanted and needed a place that could be detached from the world, both with its physical isolation but also carry a sense of beauty.

Each of these things needed to be overshadowed by a big city in its direct view (Seattle).

Having never visited Washington I needed to familiarize myself with the area. I Googled and printed information on the local high school, where the police station was located and visited numerous realtor web sites and identified my main character’s apartment and layout.

After downloading numerous maps of streets and neighborhoods I said to myself….

1) I need to get my butt over there soon and

2) I need more information.

With that, I made up in my mind that this coming year I will fly out to WA for a few days and two, I decided to pick up the phone and call the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce.

I explained who I was and what I was doing (writing a novel that takes place in your neighborhood) and how I needed some information. The friendly voice on the other line replied “Sure! That sounds exciting, I think I can help”.  With that she sent mountains of maps, demographic information, newsletters and special events calendars.  I was so excited to open my mail each day until it arrived.  A little shy and nervous to call…but I’m very glad I did.

Thank you Bremerton Chambers of Commerce!!