Saturday, November 7, 2015

On Writing: A Good Question With A Great Answer

(This post first appeared on the blog one year ago today. I still think about this when I begin each and every post, and if you noticed, I deleted part of my post from yesterday.)
The extremely talented writer, Gillian Flynn, answered the following question today on Goodreads.

"When you write something like Gone Girl, or Sharp Objects, are you afraid of hurting your husband's or your mom's feelings with the things you say about those relationships that, granted, are not necessarily autobiographical, but that may contain half-truths drawn from real life? How do you handle that kind of situation?"

Gillian's response:

“Great question. I've learned that you can't worry and write at the same time. If you let yourself go down that road, then what you do (and believe me, I've done this) is write with a little nagging angel on your shoulder, who's wringing her hands and worrying that people might get upset. It's not a good way to write well. So I put everyone out of my head and write the story I need to write. Then I have a very important and useful conversation with those close to me. For instance, the mother in Sharp Objects is nothing like my mom and my husband and I are nothing like the Dunnes, but I think it's completely viable for them to ask me any questions they'd like—and I certainly want to know if they feel I've mined something unfairly from our relationships. (I try very hard to avoid the autobiographical, and if a character starts feeling too much like someone I know in real life, I take that as a sign I'm being lazy.) Thankfully I happen to be blessed with friends and family and a husband who love books and love that I'm a writer and respect that my imagination can take me to some very unsavory places that have nothing to do with them.”

I love her answer. It is something I have thought about, and still struggle with, every time I write anything. What will someone else think? Will they somehow see themselves in my tale? I have had to remind people that a piece is FICTION several times. 

Do you ever think about the impact your writing may have on your relationships when you put fictional, or even non-fictional, words to paper? 


Jack said...

I have had a few people fight with me about my fiction and insist they knew who I was writing about. If I feel like I have made a character sound too much like someone I know I usually try to add parts and pieces of someone else too.

But I also remind people that I had a long life before they came into mine and that I might have had certain experiences with them that sound familiar because they are so common.

Joshua said...

Indeed we do. :)

Gina said...

We are writers. We make stuff up. (I had a few glasses of wine before previously I typed this response. I am just coming back to correct it.). Yes! Indeed!

Stacie said...

I love this! There are definitely posts I won't write because they might upset people .