An Exercise (For Me)

I’m busy cranking away at NaNoWriMo. I fell a little behind over the weekend, but not so far behind that I couldn’t easily catch up. The goal for today is 13,336. I’m currently at 10,759 – a difference of 2,577 words. Not too shabby, I think.

I got a little stuck on the chapters that I’d decided to get out of the way because I knew I was going to hate writing them. These chapters are located in the middle of the book and are the only three that are semi-based in reality. I always get tripped up on this. I think I’ve written about it before. I become so focused on getting it right, getting it exactly how it happened, that the narrative suffers for it. Greatly. I finally “finished” (I’m about 3,000 words short of where I wanted to be with each chapter) 2 of the 3 pseudo-reality chapters and decided to go back to the beginning, which is all make-believe. I’m much happier there.

Still, for all that I hate writing memoir, or memoir-ish chapters, I started thinking back to dear old Anabel & Paul – the novel I was working on for last year’s NaNoWriMo and which I’m currently editing/polishing/finishing(?). I started taking a writing class Wednesday’s after work and decided to use the class to aid in my editing, to try and get reactions from an actual audience about my characters. In re-reading Chapter One, I realized how much I use from my own life to flesh out the characters and the home.

So that’s why this exercise is for me. I wanted to go through and see how much of myself I insert and, from there, try and determine how I can better work/edit the memory-based chapters I’m working on now.

 “Ana,” he grumbled.: Ana is a name I use for a lot of my characters. It has everything to do with my work with and study of eating disorders in college.

The door had its knob in the center instead of to the side,: The door to my Grandfather’s second house had the knob in the center. I loved it.

– and a multicolored granny square blanket that her Nana had crocheted when she was a little girl.: I don’t think my Nana ever actually crocheted me anything. But she did crochet and she was my Nana. Actually, she taught me crochet basics, so I guess that’s something.

but since he disliked being baited, he said nothing and continued fiddling with the part in his dark corner.: I HATE being baited and will often make situations extremely uncomfortable if that’s what you’re trying to do, just by simply not asking. I was working on a project with a girl in class once, someone I had only just met, and she kept hemming and hawing over something semi-tragic that had happened to her that weekend. But, she wasn’t actually coming out and saying what it was. She definitely wanted me to ask. I didn’t.

She put down her copy of Little Women on the bench beside her: I read Little Women for the first time around this time last year and resolved to make it a yearly, Christmas time read. I already have the movie on constant rotation during the holidays.

Anabel’s eyes were one blue, one brown. The pupil in her brown eye was shaped like a lima bean, disfigured from the time her younger brother loaded a snowball with a rock and aimed for her face.: Weird that I attributed this to a female character when it comes from a boy who I was in (puppy) love with in grade school. His eyes were the same and I believe it was because his brother threw a snowball at him that was loaded with a rock.

– and a bag of peppermint tea from the tea canister on the wooden shelf above the stove.: Peppermint tea is my favorite!

she smiled, tilting her head in his direction: Not that this is personal, but I picture the way that Rachel McAdams looks at Mark Brendanawicz (who cares what his real name is?) at the end of The Family Stone, when they’re hanging the last ornament on the tree.

What about you? How much of your own personality do you tend to insert in your writing? And if you don’t, if you prefer to keep your writing solidly based in fiction, why? What’s your process? 

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1 Response to An Exercise (For Me)

  1. I think we all put a bit of ourselves in our stories, even when writing pure fiction. I also felt uncomfortable writing my own memoir. It was difficult because it brought back so many memories I thought I'd forgotten.Funny about that eye thing. My dad has one eye which is darker than the other because his brother poked him in the eye with a fork when he was a little boy. They were messing around at the table.

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