“Hey,” Jenny asked me one day, “isn’t this character doing what we talked about the other day?”
I glanced over, looking down at the laptop with her. It showed one of my recent short stories. I was thinking of expanding more on top of that story, but I wasn’t sure at the time. I did recognize the character’s action though.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I must’ve been thinking about our silly pancake idea when I wrote it.” I shrugged like it was nothing. “I expanded a bit on the idea there though.”
Jenny nodded, but not to agree. Her eyes grew wide and her face turned pale. She looked away as if she couldn’t comprehend it. I’m a fiction writer, but my actual life comes through my writing. The thought scared her.
The more I looked at my writing, the more I realized my life was in my stories more than I wanted. Some characters mimicked people in my life. For almost every story, a character acted like me. The disconnected family I had was reflected in my stories. It was all there, right in front of them.
Despite how scared Jenny got, I didn’t think it was bad. Life was supposed to inspire me to write and get away. Of course, some of my life leaked out into my writing.
When I took non-fiction in college, I learned to control how much of my life came out in my writing. I saw the signs of it more. I thought I’d help my friends and family not worry by limiting how much of my life I brought into the stories. But that wasn’t always the case.
Some of my writing became bland and weak. I couldn’t figure out what happened for a while. I didn’t realize that taking my life out of stories would also take the life out of the stories.
I didn’t control my writing after that. I let small clips of my life flow in and out of my stories. My words came to life again.
No one can take life out of their writing and expect to write a great story.