It’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. (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?