Friday, September 3, 2010

Fictionless Friday: An Update

My writing has gone to a dark place. A delightful and delicious dark place. And although I’m enjoying it, I have no idea what happens next.

Two months ago, my writing mentor challenged me to set my fiction writing aside for a while and start writing about myself. To find the material that’s already within me, lying in wait to be discovered.

Didn’t seem like a difficult challenge. If anything, I was game to see what I would find once I dove into the dark recesses of my soul. So I did.

Sixty days later, I have almost 100 pages of material. I’ve written about my family, the pain of being an outsider, the guilt of failed relationships. Tearful and charged words about school picture day and my hatred of eHarmony. I remembered stories about train rides to Kansas and the Sears catalog that I thought I’d forgotten. Gotten angry over casual encounters of the kindergarten kind. It’s been a thrilling trip into my psyche and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

But now, when I look at those 100 pages, I don’t have a clue what to do with any of it. How do I take all of my personal junk and use it in my fiction writing? Or my new television pilot ideas?

Putting my stories into my characters would just make those characters sad, pathetic losers. Perhaps that’s simply borne out of self-judgment, but I just don’t see how the dark details of my life can possibly be applicable.

Maybe you think it’s obvious, but I’m still waiting for the click. The ah-ha moment where I see how my personal material can be mined in my fictional narrative.

Established writers always tell me to write what I know, but who wants to see a show about my crazy little life? I don’t know. But until the pieces fall into place in my head, I’ll continue writing about myself. Fictionless and fancy free. We’ll see what happens next.


  1. Teresa, I hesitate to comment because I get the feeling your self-esteem is fragile. You describe your experience as "delightful and delicious", a "thrilling trip", and "fancy free", yet you use words like "pain", "guilt", "dark recesses", and "sad, pathetic losers'. I am confused. However, there are many stories about the crazy little lives of pathetic losers who have captured our imagination and even become superstars. Think of Clyde in "Bonnie and Clyde"... Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets". With a combination of strong supporting characters, clever situations, good dialogue, and their talent as actors to help tell the story,then wow. Maybe you can find some of those imaginative twists in the writing that you do. Go for it!

  2. Thanks for the comment! My self-esteem is far from fragile, but I still worry that a lot of my recent writing sounds pathetic. You reference good characters though - I would be lucky to create characters that memorable! Here's hoping it all pays off!