The first piece of writing most of us receives is, "Write what you know." That's how Shards started out, for instance. It contains some of my own experiences losing my father to cancer, the first terrible time I fell in love and the wonderful second time, my sense of having a charmed life broken up by the occasional, truly tragic experience.
But stories, even if there's a grain of autobiography in them, take on their own logic and progress differently from our reality. April is partially me, but also very different. The secondary characters in Shards all contain a trace of someone close to me - my best friend, my first love, my own parents - and then change into completely unfamiliar shapes.
And, of course, the characters determine the story. So, while we may write sometimes while exploring an unresolved portion of our lives, the resolution of those stories can be completely different between real life and the created life.
I had a great reminder of this recently. Nick in my novel is based on a real-life guy (we can call him Mark). In my novel, April and Nick had a terrible relationship, that she has never really quite gotten over. In the end, April finally gets over Nick and leaves him in the past, with the two at their final meeting agreeing to never see each other again.
In real life? Well, ditto with the terrible relationship. It took me forever to get over Mark. The first time he and MJ met was terribly awkward. But we've got a lovely platonic friendship now, I adore his wife, and we all enjoy hanging out. Mark and I went to get coffee and see Repo Men recently, and it was not weird.
That ending wouldn't work in Shards, at all. But it works in real life.
COM O DEDINHO NO CUZINHO
7 hours ago