Fiction Is My Truth

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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.

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10 comments on “Fiction Is My Truth

  1. AngelaMarie says:

    Natasha, what a great post!! It is so insightful and interesting. I so admire your inquisitiveness and how you share your process of learning about yourself and life through writing with others. That has always been something oddly difficult for me, and I am learning along with you! Bless you for giving me such wonderful thoughts to ponder today. I have often struggled with writing “fiction,” having it always result a too-near resemblance to my own life. (I have so much “lived experience” that I think I need to process that to imagine working in pure fiction seems difficult!) So the few “fiction” stories I have written are based – some more loosely than others – in my life experience. I find it difficult to break from that to write ‘pure fiction,’ but perhaps it’s not necessary to do it completely, as you say. Anyway, keep up the great work and writing! Angela

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Angela!!

      Thanks! Its been and will continue to be a process for me. Like you said, a lot of learning and making mistakes. I am however, grateful that when I write I’m never alone when I seem to get tangled up in my thoughts of “Am I’m doing this right?” or “What should I be doing?”

      I’m fortunate enough to have someone close to me that doesn’t mind hearing me ramble… much like a tormented artist ready to cut my ear off. However, more often than not she takes me off the ledge of giving up by providing a clear voice of reason and at times saying “No, you are not stupid for feeling this way”. She always helps me realize that its a good thing that I’m trying to work these things out. These are the things that will help me become a better writer.

      Then I think to myself: I can’t possibly be the only one feeling this way, or have these questions like this. So I blog in hopes to share and continue learning. Thank you Angela for always visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  2. jayrodpg says:

    I’m glad you’ve read “On Writing.” It is a great book, and I don’t read Stephen King. But I respect what he says about the craft and recommend that book to anyone who would like to learn more. It made me angry when he said “Don’t come to the blank page lightly.” I thought he had thrown down the gauntlet and was saying that I was coming to the page lightly.

    I now understand differently. I know how hard it is to write and to be willing to open up and share our identity with others and I applaud your efforts in this work. Keep it up, it will pay off over time. And thanks for your comments on my blog, my wife is happier now that I am a full supporter of gay marriage. 😀

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Jayrod! As always I’m grateful for your feedback.
      LOL!!! So your wife is happy now? That’s great! That’s what I do as a side job… bring peace to the home-front Ha! 🙂
      Its a hard topic to address anywhere so I was surprised to see it on your blog. Whether we agree or not on the issues that are important to you, you always seem to create the perfect forum to discuss openly.
      I truly enjoy visiting and learning about the inner working’s of Mr. Jayrod LOL!

  3. Eden says:

    I wasn’t reading a lot of blogs this week, and I’m sorry I missed this one when you posted it, 😦

    I can’t say for certain if we all go through this stage when our stories are really just reflections of how we perceive the world around us, but I know I certainly spent my share of time writing stuff that I will never ever show anyone except my best friend and maybe my husband. If I save it at all…because there are times I still write that sort of story, where the character has my voice instead of his/her own, when I over-think the action because I want to see it through my own eyes, not through the societal blindspots that I’ve tried to establish… And in the end, I know I’m never going to be able to fully create something that I haven’t tainted with my own essence. But I still try. At least I’ve gotten better at it than I was with Release. But that’s a story for another day (when I was blessed to have a friend who also listened and read every word and gave me advice and quiet comfort –and not-so quiet scolding–when I needed it)….

    I wish you the best, Natasha. And if you need a second ear or another reader, you can always tag me on Twitter or so. If I’m there, I’d be happy to listen/chat…

    • Natasha says:

      Eden, Its so good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

      I at times find it hard to separate a “real’ memory or my personal voice from my characters, but in the end it feels far better to step into the skin of my characters and view life from their eyes and speak from their mouth.

      When I’m really in it: Its 2 in the morning, I’ve been writing for hours, the lights are off, the music on my headphones has become the white noise in my ears…. I’m writing the very things they decide to do in those moments…right there on the blank screen. Once I could almost feel the pungent smell of coffee on my face as my character was speaking to a person. I remember writing how that made him feel…disgusted. Not because I would say or feel that way…that’s just who he is.

      It kind of reminds me of the movie ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ When Emma Thompson is writing Will Ferrell’s life just as he’s living it.

      I like to think that my characters would sneak up on me, in my ‘real’ world and curse me out if I went astray from who they should be not who I think they are. A lot like this scene (I think I’ll do a future blog post on this idea!) LOL!!!!!!

      ‘Stranger Than Fiction’

      And yes… I would be grateful for your ear, I could use it.

      • Eden says:

        You are welcome to my ear. And I do get it about dealing with characters on such a personal level. They don’t talk to me as much as they used to, but ever once in a while I will hear Alanii say something to me in this ever-so patient and parental tone that makes me unsure if I should slap him or pay attention…

        Umm, yeah… Well, as you can see I’ve got my certification certificate (it says “Writer” only to keep me out of the looney bin). Sounds like you’ve at least applied for yours too. 😉 Always fun when we can sit in a cafe and turn people’s heads, eh?

        And if you DO write that blog post, want to read it. Sounds cool!

  4. outstanding post. beautiful. perfect way to describe the balance of using fact with fiction, i think. a fellow writer referred me to your site and she was not wrong. love it.

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Valerie!

      Thanks for visiting my blog!! I’ve been a bit behind on my postings, but I’m happy you’ll be coming by to visit!!! I’m a newbie writer and blogger.. I figured I can learn from others like yourself, or spread my crazy thoughts on writing to others LOL! Either way I enjoy the process of posting and sharing.

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