Month: November 2015

Fiction Therapy

All artistic endeavors are, in some respect, therapeutic, for the creator as well as the consumer. Teenagers spill their angst-filled words onto paper in the form of poetry. Some people sing the blues. And some writers pull extensively from their own lives, using fiction as their therapy.

I’ve never sung the blues, but I did my share of teenage poetry. And all of my novels have drawn from my life quite a bit. Some of my friends have noted that Dynamistress is, in many ways, a female version of myself, and I’ve never denied this. I deliberately gave her some of my own “issues” that I was struggling with at the time I began the first book. It was an experiment, to see if I could help myself by having “her” work through my own crap. To my surprise, it actually helped me.

Yes, she has her own series, now. No, I don’t know why. Read them all here.

Fiction writers are accustomed to analyzing their characters in order to work out their motivations, to figure out how they pull through. It can be difficult to self-analyze; we can’t look objectively at our own situations. It’s much easier to do this with a fictional character. Even a fictional character drawn heavily from our own lives and problems.

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Memory Mining

Like many writers, I draw from my own life experiences for the things I write. As I write this, I’m currently working on the third book in the Dynamistress series. These books are filled with variations of events that actually happened to me as a kid or young adult.

I’d always planned to do this for the books, but some of the things that came to me were very unexpected, things I hadn’t thought of in an awfully long time. For example, at one point in the story, Dyna’s brother is making an analogy and he mentions a particular item from their (my) youth: a bag of marbles.

When I was a little boy, there was a big bag of marbles my dad had. They were old, and I knew that my older siblings (older by 15 and 16 years) had played with them when they were little. Sometimes I actually played with them in game form with my friends, putting a circle of string on the floor and we’d take turns shooting them out. But mostly, I just liked looking at them.

Not the actual bag, but…

There were all sorts. Some were plain glass of white or black. Others were “cat’s eye” marbles, with beautiful waves of color nestled inside the clear glass. There was one that was an old style, made of clay, rough to the touch. There were even a couple steel ball bearings in there.

When the memory of these marbles popped into my head, I allowed myself some time to savor the memory. But then, as I’m prone to do, I went online and started researching marbles, including how they’re made, how much some of them sell for, and so on. One of the things I learned is that some of the marbles being made today are crazy beautiful.

Now, sometimes I do deep research on things for the sake of making accurate points in my stories. Entire scientific articles are studied just for the sake of a single, almost throwaway, line in a book. But no, there won’t be anything about the marbles in the book aside from their use as an analogy. I was doing the marble research purely out of curiosity and fascination. Because I’m insatiably curious. Also, easily distracted.

I admit that when I first decided to use memories of my personal history for inclusion in the books, it was because it would be an easy source of material. What I’ve found, though, is that it not only allows for a richer storytelling, but also a deeper appreciation of my own life, both past and future.

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