My agent asked what I was working on next. When I told her it's another dark, wrenching novel, she kind of laughed and wondered why I was interested in telling such stories.
Readers expect a writer's characters to be autobiographical, that the protagonist's experiences are the writer's own. I suppose for many people that's true, but not for me. My life has been blessed. I've never had a lot of money, never belonged to the popular clique or was considered a beauty, but I was born into a large family with loving parents. I've had good health more or less, and all of the rights and opportunites afforded an American. For that, I've always felt I was a forunate one. But that's not true for everyone.
I am a news hound. Each day I read 3-5 newspapers with NPR streaming in the background. Neither vampires nor anti-christs, dinosaurs nor aliens terrify me. People do. We humans inflict great horror upon one another. I am haunted by visions of what befell Nick Berg, Erica Green, Charles Falkenberg, an unidentified Hutu mother -- too many more to name. People are capable of incalcuable evil, maybe we all are, I hope not. I write what I do because I need to find a way to -- if not make sense of it, how can anyone do that? -- rewrite another's fate.
A friend of mine is struggling with the direction of her WIP. She knows the dark corners she needs to explore, but it can be a challenge to one's psyche to forge on. As writers, we must expose our rawest nerves to find the honesty. Still, we do it to be true to the story. And while life doesn't always have a satisfying resolution, at least we can give that to our beloved protagonists if we want. We can find comfort knowing we get to control the ending.
If only we could in life, too.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007