Your Smile On Fire

...from the song Xavia

on being a liar... uh, er... I mean, making stuff up

     Yes, I wrote a novel about a girl who hates where she lives. And yes, sometimes I'm not exactly on great terms with where I live either.

     But this is the problem with writing fiction... EVERYONE THINKS I'M WRITING ABOUT MY OWN LIFE!!! And I'm not, even if there are similarities. What I am doing is MAKING STUFF UP!! LYING!! (Ha, I was watching the Stephen Colbert show once with my mom and he was showing the NYTimes bestseller list and he said, "these people wrote fiction, they make stuff up. You know what we call people who make stuff up? LIARS!" I thought it was hilarious.)

     Now usually I get the idea for something I write from my own life. Not from the big stuff (okay, sometimes the big stuff), but just one little thing that happens. Like this one time I was talking to my sister and I had one of those moments where I can't believe we're actually related, and I thought, "huh. I should write about sisters who are different." So I did. Of course, the story turned out awful, but that's not the point. (Um... now I'm forgetting what the point was in the first place... oh yeah...) I got the initial spark of an idea from that one moment, but the story wasn't about me and my sister.

     I don't remember where I read this or who said it (it was on 101reasonstostopwriting I think), but it was talking about the fact that it's the fiction writer's job to write the character's story, not their own story. So that's what I try to remember. Sure, all my ideas come from things that happen in my own life, but it's not my story. If it were my story it would be called nonfiction and it would be blithely boring. (Is blithely a word or did I just make that up? Discuss.) (Not that all nonfiction is boring... RED, anybody? But about my entire life, yes, it would bore anyone who isn't me. Or maybe Mich.) So whenever I'm writing something I have to be really careful to not turn it into my story, to not make the characters into me and my family. Which is why I'll probably be stopping the novel I started working on after the one I finished (which still has no name). It's very complicated to not make it GLARINGLY OBVIOUS where I got the idea from. Maybe I just need to wait a while, sort things out before I leap into writing it...?


     Oh, and PS., the ironic thing about the novel I finished (which I'm just going to start calling ASH CREEK until I come up with something more creative), is that the inspiration actually didn't come from my life. It came from a song which bears no resemblance to my life. Anyone heard County Line by Sugarland? I wonder if this will let me embed a video...

If not, you can click here to hear the song.



amyh said:

Ahhh. I know what you mean. My novel gets rather... scandalous in plot and such, but I get so afraid of telling people what it's about (and yes, I am refraining from telling even you, sigh, haha) because they're going to be like, "OMG TRUE STORY RIGHT?!?!!?" Please god NO!

December 11, 2007 6:26 PM


Oct. 15 [going to work soon] [two school essays due; majorly nervous about both] [remember when i wrote that short story where the girl said "majorly" every other WORD practically? ha]