PDA

View Full Version : How to write about yourself?



Celia Cyanide
03-30-2006, 10:40 PM
A friend of mine is encouraging me to take events from my own life to draw upon for writing, but I'm a little nervous. Does anyone have any advice for someone who is more than a little afraid to write about herself?

rich
03-30-2006, 10:57 PM
When you write, even if its third person omniscient, you're writing about yourself. If you're not writing about yourself, you're not writing.

Celia Cyanide
03-31-2006, 12:48 AM
When you write, even if its third person omniscient, you're writing about yourself. If you're not writing about yourself, you're not writing.

That doesn't help me at all.

Lantern Jack
03-31-2006, 04:44 AM
That doesn't help me at all.

Rachel, what do you expect? This is the forum where all sensible queries, barring the extreme exception (:Hail:Victoria), is as the screaming of ghosts: urgent and insensible.

Yeshanu
04-01-2006, 07:16 AM
Rachel,

I think what rich is trying to get at is this:

When we write, if we write truly, what is put down on the page comes from our experiences and our life. We can't not write about our lives, even if we do it in a roundabout way.

So unless you're writing absolute tripe, you're probably writing about your life in one way or another.

One thing that might help is to remember that you're not alone. If you've experienced something, whether it be joyful or painful, someone else has likely walked that path before you. And readers who are walking the path behind you would like to read about that experience, so that they are not alone either.

If you have access to Canadian magazines, I'd recommend getting hold of this month's Chatalaine. In it, there's an excerpt from a book titled Daniel Isn't Talking. It's fiction, about a mother raising an autistic son, and I didn't realize it was fiction until I read the author's bio at the end. It rang so very true to my own experiences raising my autistic son, but it did that because she was writing about her experiences raising her autistic son.

You don't necessarily have to base everything you write on everything you've experienced, in fact, you can't if you're going to write fiction. But starting with what you've lived through, and putting your characters through the same situations (and maybe having them react the way you wished you'd reacted after you'd thought about it a while), is a way to get beyond the problem that many fiction writers seem to have, which is having only good things happen to the main character.

Another thing to start doing: Write a journal or diary. I have diaries going back years and years now, and I re-read them every once in a while to remember where I've been. Ten or more years after the fact, I'm more willing to add them into my writing than I would have been while all the crap was happening to me.

Hope this helps.

Celia Cyanide
04-03-2006, 06:21 AM
Rachel,

I think what rich is trying to get at is this:

When we write, if we write truly, what is put down on the page comes from our experiences and our life. We can't not write about our lives, even if we do it in a roundabout way.

So unless you're writing absolute tripe, you're probably writing about your life in one way or another.

Thanks for the reply. I think that we do write about ourselves one way or another, but I don't think that the main plot of a novel is always going to be something that happened to you. Joshua suggested that I try to write some autobiographical stories for a novel, and it's hard. I think my main problem is that I can't think of anything that has happened to me as being interesting to other people. And I don't know how to tell what parts are interesting, and what parts aren't. Other people tell me my stories are interesting, but they just seem boring to me.

Aconite
04-03-2006, 05:03 PM
Other people tell me my stories are interesting, but they just seem boring to me.LOL Celia, that's far preferable to the other way around. (I have a big family. I'm speaking from experience.)

Celia Cyanide
04-04-2006, 01:56 AM
Oh, I have it the other way around, too, believe me! :)

thestoryangel
04-18-2006, 03:12 AM
I think the best way to write about your life is to find the moment (your fork in the road) and go from there.:e2BIC:
I hope that helps.

aka eraser
04-25-2006, 09:13 PM
I agree with Rich and Yeshanu. Nearly all my writing is about my life - at least as a starting point. Taking a real incident that may seem uninteresting to you, then fictionalizing it a smidge is like adding salt, pepper, garlic, chives and butter to some mashed potatoes.

Voila! You have something yummy to eat (read). It may well be that your events don't need extra spice but that's part of the beauty of this writing thing - you're the chef. Don't worry overmuch or over-intellectualize about what you're going to cook, just start cooking. We have an advantage over real cooks though, we can subtract unwanted spices when we edit.

rich
04-25-2006, 09:56 PM
To get my (our) point across, give me some kind of course in a few words and I'll write at least 300 words on it. It'll somehow be anchored in my experiences, but may take another turn as I write. Hell, even the turn will have something to do with my life because even my imagination is a product of my life. The end product will be interesting to me at its finish--and that's a key--even if you suggest the most mundane of subjects. The good stuff is all in the writing.

rich
04-25-2006, 10:30 PM
I think the best way to write about your life is to find the moment (your fork in the road) and go from there.:e2BIC:
I hope that helps.

What is a defining moment? There are so many and also so few. Thoughts: I'm going to write about the time I almost died, or maybe about the time I had an ingrown toenail.

You won't know which defining moment will take off, which one will penetrate your make-up, and the make-up of readers and editors until you write it. Enthusiasm helps a great deal, but enthusiasm can wane in the writing process. Try writing something that, to you, is insignificant. The significance may out itself in the writing.

Silver King
04-26-2006, 02:50 AM
I came to a fork in the road once, stooped down to pick it up, and was nearly struck by a car. I have the worst luck that way. (This really did happen. It was a pitch fork a friend threw in the road.)

The key is to describe your experiences with some detachment. Don't think of yourself personally, but as a character whose life events you're chronicling. There's no need to be nervous at all. It's your story to tell. And believe me, your life is a lot more interesting than you think. Even your friends understand this. Use your treasure trove of experiences to draw content from, and you might be surprised to find how truly interesting you are. It just depends on which view of your world you select to show readers.

Good luck!

Nateskate
04-27-2006, 04:16 PM
A few questions:

Why do you believe you should write about yourself? If your friend suggested it, did they have a specific reason- they thought your life was interesting, but you aren't sure? The difference between a journal and a story is that one is for you, the other is to reach others.

What's the point you want to get across? Is there a moral to the story? "If life gives you lemons, make juice."

Is it that you want someone to come along and enjoy the ride- "My life as a top model".

If you look at reader's digest stories, sometimes the story itself isn't as eye catching as the way its told.
Here's something to ponder; when you tell anecdotes about your life, what kind of interest does it spark? That doesn't mean it isn't interesting, but the less the story is about a particular point, the greater the need to make common life seem exceptional, ala Tom Sawyer, which in the beginning simply captures what it was like to be a boy growing up.

La Plume
04-28-2006, 01:13 AM
.........Just tell the truth and you will be fine.

rich
05-18-2006, 12:17 AM
And the truth is?