Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How much of you is there in here?

I like to write. I've been writing my whole life. Since I was a silly little kid, I would keep a diary that was part poem, part song, and mostly nonsense. But I am not a story teller. Poetry is my medium. I'm not saying I'm any good but everything I write is personally connected to me. While I am capable of writing about things that I haven't experienced, they are things that I can empathize with or feel deeply about. And the way that I portray them in my writing is the way I see them.

Now here's my question... A novelist or story teller: How much of them is in their writing? I'm currently reading a really perverse novel, by a well-known actor, and I wonder where he thought this stuff up? Is it inside of him? Is that why he felt he needed to express it in this story? Authors who write very violent novels, are they themselves harboring a very violent person deep within, who is placated by the telling of violent stories? I would imagine that if I were to write a novel, it would contain my perspective, my feelings... even if those were forced feelings conjured up from deep within.

Does anyone have any insight on this that they could share with me?


  1. Imagine what's going on inside Stephen King's head? I once read an interview where he mentioned that the thought behind the story is followed by loads of research. The marque de sade wrote, and then experimented, and then wrote more. I imagine it depends on the author, but then there is the saying "Truth is sometimes better than fiction." There are things that have happened in my life that could fill the pages of a book, while on the other hand, there are things that if it filled the pages of a book, then that book would put Ambien out of business.

    I do think that an author's writing, while not every aspect, and each author on varying degrees of revealation (does that sound plausible?), has the flavor of his/her life embedded somewhere in their writing. Be it the storyline, main characters, or filler is in there somewhere.

    My husband and I both agree that Charlaine Harris is definitely living vicariously through Sookie Stackhouse (who wouldn't!!!).

  2. I have writen a few stories. some fantasy and some reality. the real ones are usualy from my personal experence. but I do find that when I write a fiction that most of my ideas are in some way related to things that have happend in my life. it's wierd I guess. have you ever tried to write a fiction but using real people in your life. you will often find that their part in the story you write is relevent to how you feel about them in real life. if that makes sense

  3. It must be very liberating to take on a whole other kind of persona when writing a novel. I think my voice, my perspective, my feelings would be on every page of any novel that I would write. I write poetry which is all about self-revelation. I wonder if I could ever put that creative form of expression to the side in order to explore unfamiliar or drastically different lifestyles or viewpoints. Wonderful post for discussion and reflection today!

  4. he's about a year and a half, so i guess he wont get too much bigger. i suppose beast is a better word for him...

  5. Kelly, something you said triggered my memory of a lecture one of my professors had about poetry. I can be extremely neurotic and since reading your comment, I have been going through lecture notes and text books-without finding the little snip-it of information i was looking for.... SOOO what did I do?? I emailed my old college professor of course :) The brilliant Dr. Claudia Champagne answered my email quickly; it was swift relief to the anxiety I was feeling about not having found the answer.

    Here's what she had to say:
    "During the Renaissance, many poets did speak with their own personal voice--Donne, Herbert--but the great shift of the Romantics was toward self-expression in poetry, with a subjective rather than objective focus. Before this, especially in the Age of Enlightenment during the 18th century, poetry was not viewed as expressive but as didactic and mimetic. The whole notion today of poetry as "self-revelation" is a result of the Romantic movement or revolution from mimesis to expressionism. See my notes; this is based on the classic of literary criticism: M. H. Abrams's The Mirror and the Lamp."
    -Dr. Claudia Champagne

    Anyways, why did I bring this up? Because maybe this is the way a person can write perverse/crazy/violent etc stories. perhaps they are able to remove the personal eye/I from their writing? See through some insanely objective perspective. I am almost COMPLETELY unable to remove myself from my writing. I feel it intensely, but maybe it is not this way for all writers.

    Wayne: I'll hve to give that a try. interested to see how it turns out

    Oh and Alex: Charlaine Harris is SO living vicariously through Sookie!! I would too if it meant I could be with Eric the Northman-even if it were only in my vivid imagination!

  6. It's a very good question.

    I would argue that there are just levels of empathy and ability to relate... While it may make you uncomfortable to see yourself committing a murder, etc., there may be those who are more open or understanding of the situation who can maybe put themselves in the right shoes to be able to write the novels? It is always easier to write about things that are familiar. It is the foreign that is more difficult.

    They're either perverse or they can stretch themselves more!

    Shawna's Study Abroad

  7. Shawna, you may be absolutely right. If you can imagine, we are all made of the same stuff. I mean we are genetically 98% identical to chimpanzees for goodness sake... Imagine how similar we are to one another! What could be the difference between a serial killer and a regular joe? One trauma in childhood? How close could we all have been to becoming some wild perverse creature with no sense of morality? So there must be some out there that are more receptive to those out-the-box emotions.

  8. reading this years later. I was racking my brain to remember what book I read that made me write this post and why did I decide not to disclose the title. After about 20 minutes of google-ing novels written by actors, I found it! "Dance with the Devil," by Kirk Douglas. FYI


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