The older I get, the easier it becomes to fictionalize painful feelings, awkward emotions and other uncomfortable subjects.
In my youth and young adult years, I found myself in the midst of constant drama and I wasn’t capable of writing much that wasn’t pure personal angst, but now that I am as grown up as I plan to be, the school of hard knocks is behind me. With the distance that time and growth afford, I can reflect on emotion, examine it and re-purpose it to fit fictional characters without much trouble at all.
But there is still a part of me that hesitates when I describe loss, love or humiliation. It’s not the strangers who might read my words and make assumptions about who I am that give me pause. That doesn’t concern me for a minute. I worry that the people who knew the most about me at some point in my life will believe the squirmy parts to be more memoir than fiction.
After all, we never really change all that much in the minds of those who knew us when, do we?
I’ve often wondered if writing truthfully and accessing painful emotions is easier now that neither of my parents is alive. I wonder if it would be possible for me to write some of the things I do if I had children of my own who might read me. There are things I’ve written in recent years that I might not have if I had a larger family. I think perhaps at one time I was afraid there were people who would see too much truth in what they’d read and take it personally.
Do people do that?
Maybe I assume people read more into my work than they do.
I suppose I make certain assumptions about authors whose work I find particularly brave or honest. When authors access emotion that grabs me by the throat or the heart, I just know they’ve experienced that emotion. But that author is a stranger and my perceptions are general in nature. I don’t know the facts of their lives.
What do you think? Do you avoid writing about certain thoughts, or emotions or even about sex or violence because of how you think those closest to you will see you or because perhaps you’re afraid they might see themselves? If your parents are no longer living, has it changed your writing? Does having children change the way you approach your writing?