Matter Matters: Struggles With Fiction vs. Reality


I just began a new chapter of the novel, and I am finding myself doing something that I really didn’t want to happen:  combining true feelings with the thoughts of my character.  I can see how this isn’t a bad thing.  Twain utilized his personal thoughts/feelings/growth with his reflections of the Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn characters, pertaining to their character development.  However, I’m trying to avoid getting personal with my fiction.  I have even considered changing the name of the main character due to the simple fact that I want to name my future son that decided nomenclature.  Anyways, what came out of my writing/scribble was this:

When it comes to matters of the heart, I think I feel most comfortable when I am dumbfounded.  I love not knowing what the woman is thinking instead of having her throw herself at me.  The latter part of that statement is almost psychotic nature.  The craziness showing is almost counterproductive for the relationship in question.  That’s probably how it goes with several men out in the world, but there may be equally–if not more–that may enjoy that opposite.  Granted, the waiting is the hardest part–so whimsically said by Tom Petty–but it’s true in the sense that feelings will grow more honest and pure with that little more amount of wait time. 

What is the most baffling is that the thrill of the unknown is just as aggravating.  You, that hopeless romantic–the helpless individual, dwelling in the possibility of romance–is wanting to know the ending of the story–your story.  Perhaps sticking with chapter is more appropriate?  This life segment is but a chapter, but how long is the chapter?  Will this other person turn you down by walking away?  The walking away aspect can be done in several different methods.  When the point of realization is reached there better be hope that the drive is still there, thriving, and that you have not been fooled by the thrill of the chase:  you work your ass off being patient and putting your best foot froward, but the crucial first kiss or success with establishing the monogamy and exclusiveness of your relationship ends with the conclusion of that’s it.

Luckily, in the grand scheme of things, life is a frame story with several story arcs.  You are destined to feel overwhelmed, and things will get confusing.  Fortunately, if you compare life to shows such as Lost–and how dare you–all the loose ends will be tied up.

So, the problem is not to blatantly project myself into my characters.  I think my writing voice is easily recognized, and that becomes an issue.  If it comes across similar, it wasn’t intentional.  No one is really going to understand where the character is coming from, because he is going to change his mind/views on a lot of topics.

We’ll see where it goes.


The next step is convincing my picky and snobbish self to not scrap the whole idea of the novel for the nth time.  I have kept the majority of the content without scrapping ideas, incorporating the segments of chapters–the parts I do not like–into daydream sequences, playing out in the head of the narrator/main character.  This way I can add content to the novel, leaving me feeling like I haven’t wasted my time.  The plus side:  this adds to the protagonist’s characterization.  You can call this Channeling My Inner J.D., because of referencing Zach Braff’s daydreams in Scrubs, or–I want to bring up my favorite–the segment in High Fidelity where there are a series of takes where Tim Robbins’ character gets the shit kicked out of him.  He walks into Championship Vinyl, and his Ian character is told off in a variety of fashions.  In essence, in reality, Robbins leaves unharmed. 

I want to torture my protagonist.  I want to dislike him.  I want readers to dislike him.  However, my sympathy gets the best of me, and intentions are ultimately padded.  The intent to sympathize and relate are coming to fruition. 

Sometimes I wish I would unknowingly write myself notes in the middle of the night while dreaming.  These sticky notes would be placed on my forehead, and waking up to them would be a nice reminder on what I am thinking in my subconscious.  These messages, also, would vary depending on which hand wrote the message.  I am not ambidextrous by any means, so my left hand’s messages wouldn’t be coherent aesthetically or semantically. 


Right Hand messages:

Why do you seem to clean your left hand more thoroughly than me?  (A:  I am right-handed, so I am more apt to use my right hand to scrub.  The left hand cannot wash itself.)

I really think you should consider looking at your novel from a third person perspective.  You shouldn’t write in the third person, but just broaden your spectrum in order to generate more ideas.

Watch people more often.  You were doing well with it.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Left Hand is picking your nose.  I’m no longer jealous about the washing message.

Just follow your heart.  Listen to your gut.

If you keep scrapping ideas, you’re only going to make yourself more frustrated.

Left Hand messages:

Hungary.  It’s Samwich Thyme.

Roboot:  Canadian robot.

Mr. Pitiful:  You need lovin’.

Right hand lies.




The point is I have to keep doing what I am doing; otherwise I would have scrapped the story by now instead of letting it simmer for two years and rarely stirring the pot.  That’s probably what I needed.  Needless to say, I do not include personal experience (aside feelings as mentioned above), in my writing.  I don’t want my friends to get annoyed at something that may correlate to our lives.  However, everyone else is fair game.  If you’re having an awkward moment, date, or say something outlandish–I am probably going to pick up on it. 

No one is safe.

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