"That's when I write fiction; when something is scary to me or very sad, it's something I don't think I can fix... Fiction is so much more private and scary." Susan Straight, as quoted in the book Pen On Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
I can't explain why this is true, but I have to say I loved reading this quote as I re-read this old favorite book of mine on the treadmill last week. Seeing that sentiment expressed by another writer was a validation of sorts. I've told people before that I could share all about our private struggles with debt and the shame of our early mismanagement of money in our book Learning To Live Financially Free and hardly flinch. But ask me to share this made up story about a girl who goes to visit this mailbox on a beach in NC year after year and I wanted to throw up. It has less to do with me personally, but it feels like running naked through a crowded room.
Fiction is more private and scary. It's creativity at it's most vulnerable, raw place. And then you take your creativity and display it for all to see. It's like I am a little girl all over again and the teacher has put my artwork on display for the class art fair. Only I don't believe I can draw. I think it's because in our stories we writer-types dare to explain those "things we don't think we can fix." It's because it's scary or sad that we need to deal with it-- process it-- by making up a story about it.
My new novel, She Makes It Look Easy, is like that. I took a situation that I saw in real life and wondered-- was there any way this could've ended up differently? If I put two people in that situation and I was in charge, could I make them make better decisions, or would I have to stand back and watch them make bad ones all over again? I won't tell you what decisions my characters made. But I will tell you that in dealing with the hard stuff I am learning to be a better storyteller-- to be more vulnerable, more raw, more out there in the scary places. And I can tell you that we writer types are so very grateful for you reader types who so kindly go with us, letting us know our stories matter.