Putting yourself in your writing

When I published “Inside Out” one of the comments from a reviewer was that the story felt like I was taking a page out of my own life. While it was a negative review, it was a positive reflection on my writing.

Any and every story that we write is derived from our world view, our perspective on culture, our experiences. The story that I wrote was not taken from my life. When I wrote the story, I was a single mother of four children, obviously not a twenty/thirty-something year old single woman with no children. And I wasn’t identifying as a lesbian at that time although I was identifying as bi-sexual. So while the reviewer thought it wasn’t reflective enough of a lesbian book, the fact that there were elements that rang true enough for the person to think I was telling “my story” is something to use and grow from as a writer.

If your stories aren’t in some way indicative of your point of view, whether it makes sense for others or not, means you aren’t being honest in your stories to connect with readers or for them to even care. I take the good with the bad when it comes to reviews because it meant something to someone. And I will always preface my stories by letting you know what you’re getting into. I don’t want someone to buy a book of mines and suddenly discover there is a sexual component that they disagree with.

But I also don’t say that a lesbian component in my stories is the one and only way of being in a relationship. It’s a story.  Some days I write monogamous characters, some days I write pan sexual characters, some days I write character who don’t want to be identified on anyone’s’ spectrum but these are character that I hope I write true to the story I’m telling.

It reminds me of JR Ward’s “Brotherhood” series. I thought for at least the first two books that the vampires were African-American until I read a passage of description where she clearly stated the racial identity of the characters. But I was reading her books and because of the language and slang she used, my lens automatically thought “brothers” when they weren’t. Does that mean I like her books any less? No.  It meant I had to shift my perception and read the book she wrote and gather new images in my head to match the story.

So all that is to say, if you put yourself in your writing sometimes people think you put too much and forget that it’s about characters you made up and that can be a good thing and a bad.


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