Working personal issues into my writing

Fiction writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” I’ve never been asked that  — not in that exact phrasing, anyway. But I do read about the creative processes of others. Sometimes, authors are inspired by some great tragedy in their lives, or an experience that shook them and changed their outlook, or a decision they regret. Fiction becomes a means of exploring and resolving their own life experience.

It’s a perfectly legitimate place to begin a story.  Life is senseless sometimes; a well-structured story can bring closure. A writer already controls what the characters do and how they feel about their deeds, so why not have those characters act out a scenario the author would like a second chance at? Emotional connection can make for a powerful piece of fiction, indeed.

puppeteer

And it makes me wonder if I’ve ever done that. Are the Stories of Aligare rife with my own pain and insecurity?

I’m confident they’re not. When I write my original fiction, I’m specifically trying to build something outside myself. I’m imagining a world where people can have fur or feathers or antennae, and where they don’t even know what war is.  I want my characters to have their own reactions to events, not some pre-determined outcome I impose on them. And I’ve never thought of a bad experience I had and decided to dress it up in fictional characters. (Or, well, I’ve considered it and decided that the resulting story would probably suck.)

A big part of my creative drive is my wish to change the adult fantasy genre, to raise awareness that anthropomorphic characters are not just cutesy talking puppets, or humans with animal parts tacked on. For a purpose like that, I don’t think it’d make sense for my own experience to be the primary drive of the story. I’m a human, you see. I might not like it much, when I watch the news and see the atrocities humans commit on a regular basis, but I’m still a Homo sapiens in my DNA and in my socially conditioned mind. I wouldn’t feel right taking things that happened to me and other humans and just pushing them onto aemets, korvi or ferrin. I’d rather figure out what their issues are, and explore those past hurts and tragedies.

Sometimes the personal issues of Aligare folk are very similar to human issues: I imagine that sentient beings’ problems often run parallel to each other. But being parallel doesn’t mean they’re the same.

 

Related articles:

    ◦ Aligare’s lucky numbers and their basis in lore (heidicvlach.com)

    ◦ Flashback post: What maturity means(heidicvlach.com)

    ◦ Aligare’s Mandragora, the Legend Creature of stories (heidicvlach.com)


2 Comments on “Working personal issues into my writing”

  1. Elisa Nuckle says:

    Interesting! I think writers put bits of their life experiences down in their stories, but not in this LOOK HOW MUCH OF THIS HAPPENED EXACTLY THE SAME IN X AUTHOR’S LIFE type of way. It’s the little things, basic interactions, that tend to make their way into the story. And even then, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve created characters that have nothing in common with me or my life experiences so yeah. It can be subjective.

    • Yeah, it’s easy to put little fragments of life experience into a piece of fiction as complex as a book. I was more thinking of romance stories based on the author’s failed marriage, or YA books where the main character faces bullies like the author did as a teenager, or similar. The experience doesn’t always show through that clearly in the story, though — that’s true.


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