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.

3 comments:

Julie_c said...

Huh. That's funny. I haven't really had that problem except that people who know me like to think the girl ninja with the braid is me and the boy ninja with the glasses is Mike. Nope. Just a girl ninja and one with glasses.

I think people like to make sense of things. If Cynthia wrote A it must be because of this in her life. As opposed to, if Cynthia wrote A it must be because she thought it worked for the story. Maybe they don't use their imaginations much?

I, for one, know it's because you're a dirty little secret keeper. :)

On another note - I, too, LOVE David Sedaris. I saw him speak a couple years ago. SO MUCH FUN!

cynjay said...

You're right Julie, the secret is out - I'm a secret keeper. Based on what the book is about it's slightly terrifying what people might read into it...

I absolutely cannot wait to see David Sedaris. I have the CD Live at Carnagie Hall and I listen to it whenever I have to go on a road trip.

Julie_c said...

My favorite is Six to Eight Black Men! :)