Saturday, April 16, 2011

Too Close for Comfort

When Art Meets Life

Have you ever written fiction that is so close to your heart, so much a part of yourself, that it's actually painful to put into words?

In two years I've completed two manuscripts, worked significantly on three more and outlined a handful of others.  I type very quickly and writing is something that comes easily for me.  Usually.  I always feel for my characters and draw from my own experiences to determine the emotional tone of a scene or a character's journey.  But I'm usually one step removed - the outside observer.  The big sister.  The advisor.  The friend.

Then earlier this week I got inspired and kicked off another manuscript which has me in its grip in a way that hasn't happened since the very first book I wrote. 

But this time, its personal.

Every word rivets me.  Every line is torn from somewhere deep.  I feel this book in a way I've never experienced.

And yet, I recoil from it in the same breath.  When I read through what I've written, I stare as if at the scene of a deadly car accident: Fascinated and revolted, face turned, but eyes locked on and unable to look away.

I am invigorated and drained.  Excited and grieving.  Obsessed, yet overcome with a desire to stick my head in the sand and Ostrich for all I'm worth.

This is amazing.  And hard.  I'm only 8,000 words in and haven't even touched the really hard scenes.

This is fiction!

I am, quite frankly, frightened of what's to come.

Your Turn:  Have you ever been here?  Have you poured yourself onto the page before?  What I need to know is: Was it worth it in the end?


  1. I can usually be numb from what I'm writing, even if the content is emotional or hard to deal with, but I find with the right music, I can feel very vulnerable and raw as I write. Just yesterday I was writing an emotional scene, and I had a certain song on; the combination of both made me feel very, very exposed.

  2. I find that the hard scenes to write are the ones that I feel emotionally connected to, in a bad way, i.e. that I have experienced something similar and it wasn't enjoyable. I find if I can write such scenes easily I'm usually not connected enough to the character and it comes across as distant, muffled and the reader is also less involved.

  3. Ah, well I have to say, I want to read what you've written - right now!
    There is nothing better than getting in that zone and yes, I go there myself often. I wrote a novel that encompassed a large concept within my own life and I really wanted to explore it, but I have to tell you I was absolutely exhausted because I poured so much of my heart into it, that I quite literally started getting chest pains! That novel received a lot of requests, but it was between two time periods and I didn't have any critique partners or any such thing, so I sent it out cold. Not a good idea. They liked the writing, the concept very much but I don't think I did a good job linking the two stories and two time periods together.
    I will visit it again one day, but yes go for the heart. It's raw and real and sometimes painful, and a bit like running a marathon, but oh so rewarding!

  4. I have yet to write a manuscript like you're writing right now. I haven't been writing for very long though. Someday I hope I can pour all of my emotions into a manuscript! Good luck with yours, it sounds amazing!

  5. I'm rewriting something I'd come up with when I was in tenth grade. It was written when my life was frought with teen drama, when my parents hadn't separated, when my dog was alive. When I work on it, I'm back there. I feel like I've stepped back in time.

  6. I've written a picture book about a child who stutters, and I was that child. I don't know if it's marketable, but I felt the need to write it. I had buried those memories for too long, and it was time for them to come out. Perhaps an editor somewhere will see the value in a book that such a child can relate to.

  7. Storylady, this is a comment for you! I work with children in their first year at school and some of those children have speech difficulties. I see and feel their frustrations, and if there was a book - perhaps not just a stutter book - but a book that dealt with children having to find another way to say what they need to say, well I'd be pulling it out in class for sure! I think these children need to know they're not alone, so having their difficulties in a book, well that'd be pretty sweet now wouldn't it?
    I wish you success.
    My best, Linda

  8. I've written scenes that strip me raw, but not an entire book. Sounds painful, but rewarding. Hope it goes well for you! :-)

  9. Your post touches a spot deep inside, personal and sobering. Great blog.

    Come to my site to pick up your Versatile Blogger Award.

  10. As hard as it is to write this, it will probably be your best work ever. When its like pouring your blood onto the paper, it will feel real to the reader in a way other stuff never will.

    Good luck with it!

    I've been sort of doing the same with this current rewrite of my wip. Taking all the feed back I've received over the last 3 months has helped me make the hard decisions that I didn't want to before. It's hard, but it's making it better. I'm digging deeper into how I would feel to do it, but its still different from what you are describing. It's still "safe".

  11. I know exactly what you mean. When I'm writing scenes that are filled with action, humor, romance and things that are fun the words flow.

    On the other hand when I have to dig into painful emotions writing becomes much more difficult and slow. I'm still learning how to go into the pain without getting scathed.

  12. Thanks, Escape Artist, for the encouragement. If I get rejected all around on my manuscript, maybe I'll try making it a little more general like you suggested.

  13. Oh gosh yes! I really start believing that a part of me lives in that character I'm writing. Every scene gets a piece of me.

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