Saturday, October 19, 2013

The perils of writing from life ...

I'm writing a novel that's heavily based on two emotionally turbulent times in my life: my childhood and my college years. It doesn't bother me that the writing brings up powerful memories. I kind of like that, actually. I also love that the childhood parts make me feel closer to my daughter; they remind me of just how sentient she is at her age. 

But there's a problem.

I just can't judge the writing about the college years. Is it good? Is it bad? Who knows? Not me. 

My memories bring up such strong feelings that when I re-read my writing about them, I can't tell if the memories or the writing are triggering my responses. 

Even worse: the novel also imagines a situation in which the heroine meets her college boyfriend again, years later, in an unexpected way. It's all so real in my imagination--I mean, the potential that I actually could meet my real ex again in an unexpected way, something I never imagined before writing this book--that I get downright anxious reviewing my own work. And, again, I can't tell if the writing is genuinely suspenseful and intriguing, or if I'm just wigging out inside my own head and emotions. 

Even worse worse: I'm getting so anxious and heart-pumpy that I can't bring myself to actually write the pivotal reunion scene. I've written about five deferrals now: they see each other, but an actual conversation has been delayed, and deferred, and interrupted, and ... you see where this is going. Writing a story that hits so close to home has proven difficult, in short. 

This will be a challenge for the writing group, it seems. They have superpowers. They can help! 

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