There you are enjoying the advantages of not being accountable and then a writer moves in next door. At first you think, “Oh, this will be interesting…to have an artist type in the community,” and then you realize writers write. More importantly, writers stand up for the weak, abused, and disadvantaged.
Suddenly, you start to hear how divisive your words are, and you pause. You start a sentence and pause. Why? Because the writer just overheard you.
It’s true. Friends of writers understand this aspect intimately, and have long accepted “Whatever they say will be held against them.” But typically there are no deal breakers in their personality. By virtue of being around writers all the time they’ve come to exist in the world in a genuine and compassionate way. They know writers are intelligent and understand context and begin to trust us to not recount a situation outside of the space it was experienced.
I write from personal experience. I write fiction. Not memoir or non-fiction. But what I’ve found is that to make fiction unique and your own, writing from personal experience is the best way to capture powerful and memorable moments.
My first novel, which is in the revision phase right now, is about 90% true. In fact, it’s so true all I had to do was change names and alter a few personalities. Scenes are arranged to maintain a story arch and to create dramatic action, but every scene is based on truth, based on a real experience. Sometimes you live through a series of events and, as a writer, you can’t believe your unfortunate and fortunate luck. It is so terrible and magnificent, simultaneously, that you say to yourself, “This is playing out like a novel.” Then a year after you’ve left the situation, you have distance enough to write about it. That’s what happened to me. It was a hard situation to live through, but worth every word on the page.
So if you find yourself in proximity to a writer, don’t be surprised if you end up fictionalized among the pages. And if you don’t want to be a villain in fiction, then don’t be one in real life.
Support a Native owned Etsy shop, Allies United, where I offer unique merch for allies of social justice movements, like MMIW, Native Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter. Take a look inside my Etsy shop here: etsy.com/shop/AlliesUnited.
(Works Cited: Images were borrowed from PxHere and Pixabay)