Friday, March 30, 2012

Fact or Fiction: the Writer's Life

How much of the artist is poured into the work? I get asked if I'm my heroine Brea Harper in California Girl Chronicles. I am not Brea. It's not an autobiography. But how much of the book reflects something about my life and psyche? I once took a great class in college about the psychology of authors and how you can see what was going on in their lives through the lens of their work. We studied many of the great authors and read about their lives and then read one of their greatest works. One of our assignments was to read about D.H. Lawrence and then read Sons and Daughters, which reflected back on his family life. In comparing the life to the work, we did pull out relevant events and factors that were in the stories. Of course, the author brings his or her "world" to the story. We are better writers when we come from a place of authenticity. It's harder to write about the richness of an experience when we've not had the experience. When I have very young authors tell me they want to write their memoirs, I try to discourage it. Youth and inexperience often don't make a great memoir. We reflect back on things through a mature lens. Experience and knowledge enrich and inform the storytelling process. What I wrote at age 25 versus what I would write today about the exact same experience I had at age 25 would be so much more developed and thoughtful. So, do authors bring their lives into their works? Yes, to a certain degree. In my book series, Brea's men do have grains of connection to men I've known. Brea's experiences have some ties to experiences I've had. And then the rest ... well, it's fiction.

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