Friday, October 2, 2009
Fiction Means I Made It Up
While there aren't very many ARCs of Dirty Little Secrets (one thing I found out in NYC - people in the biz such as editors and publicists call them A.R.C.s. while most of the rest of us call them Arcs as in Noah) out in the world, a few people have read one. Most of the people who have gotten one from me have a personal connection as in friends and/or family.
This is good. Mostly. One thing I didn't expect (although in hindsight I probably should have) is that people who know me read things into the text that I didn't intend to be there. Now, writers do tend to put things that are familiar into their fictional stories - I might use some places that I'm familiar with because it's easier to navigate in a familiar landscape. I might use a characteristic of someone I know in one of my fictional people. Sometimes I like a name and use it in a book. None of this means that I'm building a character around someone that I know.
I love love love David Sedaris (and I get to go see him in Marin at the end of the month - clap, clap, clap!) and one of my favorite lines of his is from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim:
"In my mind, I'm like a friendly junk man, building things from the little pieces of scrap I find here and there, but my family's started to see things differently. Their personal lives are the so-called pieces of scrap I so casually pick up, and they're sick of it."
The difference here is that David writes in a more autobiographical style, while I write fiction. I have two sisters. My character Lucy has a sister. Are they in any way similar? No. Am I making a commentary about one of my sisters with the character of Lucy's sister? No. Same goes for my parents, cousins, home town and pets. Another writer was commenting on a writing board the other day that a friend had read her book and had told her that her marriage must be a mess and she could tell that this writer hated men by what was in her book. Huh? It's fic-tion-al.
All of this makes me a little nervous as more and more people read DLS. I'm here to state, unequivocally, that this book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental. So if you see your name in my book, it can only mean one thing. I like your name.
It's fiction baby.
On this date: In 1951, Sting is born.