It’s All About You

writerIt’s no secret if you’re related to a writer—even remotely connected—like an x-lover from 1902, or like the woman with big hair wearing that hideous holiday sweater two sizes too small who stole a parking spot twelve Christmas’ ago, is in all likelihood, going to find a home in something the writer pens.

It’s a harsh reality get over it.

I have a friend who tells me regularly, “This better not end up in one of your stories or in a blog post, or else…” Or else what?  It’s not as if I’m uploading a picture with a cell phone number and the message: Call me if you want to have a good time or need story fodder.  Sheesh.

Even my own family threatens to sue me at least weekly. I can’t help not using them as story fodder.  They’re mad, every last one of the them. But whose family doesn’t have a strand of madness, right?   My response to my sister’s recent threat, “What, you think a judge is going to put me jail for telling the truth? He’d be relieved to hear my case, the first writer writing non-fiction, truthfully…Heck, Oprah will probably give me column in her magazine.  Here, let me call the judge for you…” She threatened to poison me at that point.

I’m sure there are rules for this sort of infringement of family rights, and if there are, then I’ve broken all of them. I should be locked away in a villa in Barcelona with scantly dressed Latin hunks on par with Ryan Gosling ‘s torso, the ruggedness’ of Clark Gable, and the demeanor of Cary Grant, fanning me and peeling my grapes.  Take me there now. I deserve this sort of punishment.

In my defense, and for others like me who beg, borrow, and sometimes, steal, their character’s foibles, plots, one-liners, bad hair moments, and unbelievable fashion sense, from family and friend’s life and experiences, trust me, it cannot be helped. It’s not always intentional.  Really truly.

I often start a story firm in my convictions and beliefs that everything I am writing is fresh and newly invented. You can’t imagine my surprise when I’m going through the edits and I stumble over a description, snippet of dialogue, or moment that comes back to me in Technicolor. Oh yeah, I remember!  That’s when….

A writer is the sum of her parts, her life experiences, the road trips, shopping during the holidays, the funerals, the weddings and births, the people who come and go, the lovers, the lost friends, the kiss with the willowy fellow in that wine bar on Sunset Blvd, the camping trips on the beach, the trek in India, the Cruise through the Mediterranean, the hellos and the goodbyes, the overheard conversations in Starbucks, and the family who’d loved to hate her or him, for the words on the page. Mom and Sis (Permed) (How can you not use the big hair in a description somewhere. Thanks Mom and Sis!l)

We writers go through life with the aperture setting of our writer’s lens set to maximum. It’s set to auto-magically—special setting only known to writers—capture all the senses, images, moments, flurries of undercurrents, and even the twenty-something empty the sugar packets from Starbucks into his messenger bag, happening all around us.  We cannot help ourselves, it’s an affliction, but one we’d not trade in for all the scantly dressed <insert preference> hired help in Barcelona…. Well, not permanently anyway.

Have you hugged a writer today?

What have your heard or witnessed today or yesterday that has potential?

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by

I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

38 thoughts on “It’s All About You

  1. I’m trying to be more on the lookout for potential fodder. Unlike most writers, I’m sometimes (possibly often) oblivious to my surroundings. I really have to work on it.

    Great post, Brenda.
    June O’Hara recently posted….A Dip On The SabbathMy Profile

  2. In my blog, I do my best to keep my family out of the spot light. In my book, though, I kinda sorta exposed a few juicy tidbits. I figured if I’m going to sell them out I should get paid for it. Literally. :) Fun post. Sending you a hug!
    Janene recently posted….Just Checking inMy Profile

    • Janene – I am a fiction writer (most of the time) and family and events may, OK, they often are woven into the tales from the crypt! On the Blog – always possible. Thanks for the hug. And I agree, sell them out.

    • Lauren – I know, right! Let’s go down together. I am horrible. I just drop into conversations ALL THE TIME. I heard a great one this weekend. Immediately typed in notes on my phone.

  3. It was only after becoming a writer that I began to regret being an only child. Then I regretted (on occasion) not ever marrying or having children. But that would have been kind of a high price to pay for subject matter, especially since I truly love being single. Of course, I have friends I could mine for fodder, but unfortunately I seem to be the oddest one of the bunch.
    injaynesworld recently posted….injaynesworld we leave you “Up In The Air…”My Profile

  4. Sometimes it’s the big things, sometimes it’s the little ones. Little tidbit – client in the office today, wife has him on super-healthy natural organic raw foods diet, sneaking a few pieces of candy out of the office candy dish. That’s gonna make it in a story, someday.

    Wendy Davis, last night, and all the protesters. Unbelievable sherorism, and maybe I’ll name a character after her, or steal from her life story (single mom at 19, puts herself through college and Harvard Law), or make one of my characters a protester.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted….Lakely, Baby – Crater Lake, That IsMy Profile

    • Bev – Ewww, organic and raw is not the way I want to go. I’d rather do what I’m doing – extra cardio. Both are excellent future story candidates. She is a shero. I doubt she sees herself as such.

  5. Brenda, you have me rolling again! In my novel, I based the characters of Davy and Anna on my own children at that age. When I tried to plead “loosely based” to son, Daniel, he immediately rebuked me with, “Loosely based? Loosely based? Yeah, right, Mom!”
    Yep, the lens of a writer . . . who knows whom we will describe next . . .
    Just tell the family to watch there p’s and q’s. Lol!
    Many blessings and love, my friend!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….If You Can’t Stand the Heat . . .My Profile

    • Stephanie – I can’t advise you, but if you’re going to pen a memoir, then letting go and moving on is the only thing to do. Best of luck to you. I know it’s something memoirist’s struggle with and over.

  6. First thing I learned as a writer is, it doesn’t matter what you write, your friends and family will see themselves therefore they are fair game.
    I noted to a writer friend after a lengthy tale about my neighbors, that all my discussions now sound like character development exercises.
    The first really warm day of late spring we observed people strolling along the harbor park and took turns describing people, especially men. One such fellow repeatedly lost his daughter and wandered around the park shouting her name until more observant parents in the crowd pointed out her location. He’ll make it in to a book I’m sure.
    Lynne Favreau recently posted….After the Violence: All Quiet On The Eastern FrontMy Profile

    • Lynne – spot on! I wrote a story a long time ago (it’s never seen the light of day) and shared it with a friend, but only because she asked. She went on and on about how wonderful it was and how much she appreciated me writing a story about her. It wasn’t. I never said anything. I was a newbie to writing and hadn’t grown my writer’s thick skin nor had I defined my bylaws. As for your character exercises, I can easily see a book of stories, The People I See, coming from you observations.

  7. Great post about muddied waters! Part of what I love and learn from your writing is the power with which you translate observations and experiences into magical words!
    Normally my writing is entirely self-deprecating, but I do write about my family from time to time. How can you write with authenticity about *what* you know without referencing* who* you know? I try to do it in tongue and cheek, with a heavy dash of sarcasm. My MIL once asked my husband (not me) how the kids and he feel about being the subject of my writing occasionally. I never got a straight answer from him but I suspect he could not give a straight answer because neither he nor my kids read my posts. Very infrequently someone says to me ‘this better not appear on your blog’ so when I do hear it, I respect it.
    Astra recently posted….What’s your frequency, Kids?My Profile

    • Astra – I remember you mentioning your struggle with this topic a while ago. I am not as respectful, but I admire others who are. Since my preferred genre is fiction, I figure I can get away with real life weaved into a tale. As for the blog, well.. to use the cliche, it is what it is.

  8. You are so right!!! I recently wrote in a blog post that “I have a blog and I’m not afraid to use it.” Lol! I use everything, but I will write around it sometimes. The post that I wrote that in was a funny post about being really mad at my kids things for having the nerve to disappear, I loved writing it because though it was all true, that was not what I was writing about in my head. I like taking something from my life and using it as a springboard. That is why I always love to read your work, I know there are many layers and always much more than meets the eye. Love you!! xo
    Kathy Radigan recently posted….Giving Credit Where Credit is DueMy Profile

    • Kathy, I couldn’t agree more. Our blogs belong to us and are our virtual corner of Internet and Web. We are the masters of this piece of the world and should do as we please. I don’t actually plan my posts. As you do I take a snippet from some aspect of my life and a way I go.

  9. I’d hug you if I could.

    I just wrote down a little snippet this morning from the news – that a gang of chihuahuas have been terrorizing a neighborhood here in Portland. Seriously? These are the stories that find their way into writing. Most people would come away wondering if Snowden is going to get out of Russia or celebrating or grumbling about the DOMA ruling. Me? I keep the gang of chihuahuas in my compost bin.
    Barbara recently posted….All with LoveMy Profile

    • Barbara – LAUGHING! Gang of chihuahuas, seriously? I can see this ending up in a story, possibly a romantic or light mystery with a woman private eye.

  10. Hi Brenda,

    Loved this post and it is so unbelievably true. Everything I write comes from eithr personal experience or the personal experiences of people I know. I can’t help it – we are the sum of our experiences and it is those moments, the things that happen in our day that make the best stories.

    I published a short story about my late grandmother and my aunts were up in arms, saying it wasn’t true and how could I write something like that? etc. etc. I was just re-imagining a story my gran had told me when I was a little girl. It was a work of fiction with a hint of truth … and it was a good story. It had to be told, and I do think my gran would have approved:)

    Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!
    Melissa recently posted….Lately …My Profile

    • Thanks, Melissa. Many of my stories, like the one about your Gran, are similar. As a writer, it’s hard not to draw from our life’s experiences, especially when it’s family. I fictionalize family stuff 1) because my memory is not to be trusted, and 2) even if I have the facts down pat, I tend to embellish.

  11. Brenda,
    I rarely talk family in my blog, but I have enough fodder from my clients to last a while. I can’t even get it all in what they dish out. Not enough time in a day. I think I would be a great fiction writer. Someday….Hmmm..

    Love,
    Jodi
    Hugs!

    • Jodi, that’s true. Your blog and writing is a different kettle of fish altogether. I think you have a unique view into people and could definitely fictionalize your stories.

  12. HaaaaaHaaa.
    I’ve been in trouble a few times.

    For example, I wrote a blog about my girlfriend entering a wet-t-shirt contest. She was sort of -kind of angry about that one…

    Nobody is safe from my blog…& they know it. So they had better be GOOD.

    I’m hugging a writer this moment. YOU, Brenda. Xxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted….Murder, Therapy, & Walking Thru The FireMy Profile

    • Kim, you? No way! My family is all talk, and make a big deal over everything and nothing, but that’s the Latin way. As for your friend, if she has the body and had fun, why get angry? I always like your hugs.

  13. Hi Brenda! It’s good to be back (from my trip) and back in the blogosphere. I have to tell you, when it comes to asking questions of your readers, no one does it like you. You ask brilliant, thoughtful questions to engage your readers, always giving us food for thought. I may not always answer them but know that I appreciate them for they leave me thinking. As for hugging writers, I’m all for it. In fact, like Lucy (of Peanuts Gang fame) I have a booth on the corner where anyone can hug me for five cents. Let’s just say, the doctor is in! lol
    monicastangledweb recently posted….And I Quote–AgainMy Profile

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