Proximity’s Unfortunate Consequence for Peripherals to the Writer’s Gaze

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.

Monkey Speak No EvilIt’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.

Skeletons Speak No EvilMy 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.

 

(Works Cited:  Images were borrowed from PxHere and Pixabay)

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Oscar Hokeah is a regionalist Native American writer of literary fiction, interested in capturing intertribal and multicultural aspects within two tribally specific communities: Tahlequah and Lawton, Oklahoma. He was raised inside these tribal circles and continues to reside there today–half Native American (Kiowa/Cherokee) and half Hispanic. He earned an M.A. in English from the University of Oklahoma, and a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship Award and the Native Writer Award. He has short stories published in South Dakota Review, American Short Fiction, Yellow Medicine Review, Surreal South ’09, and Red Ink Magazine

20 thoughts on “Proximity’s Unfortunate Consequence for Peripherals to the Writer’s Gaze

  1. I both make art and crunch words; while I find art to be more of a drain working with words is far more isolating.. When I paint I can have the TV on, play music or keep up a conversation…but when I type my studio has to be as quiet as a monastery.

    I think it’s great that aspects of your own life end up in your writing – it’s just another way to “write what you know”

    Good work!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah I’m all about writing from direct experiences. I delve into painting every once in a while. I find it works a different part of my creative brain. The same reason I enjoy playing guitar and writing contemporary folk songs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A flash fiction site I used to take part in and still follow: the hostess has a picture in the sidebar of a coffee mug which bears the legend: ‘Careful, you may end up in my novel!’ 🙂

    Taking characters and situations from real life in fiction writing is a ruthless business I think.

    Liked by 1 person

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