I think I’ve mentioned before here that I’m working on a sequel to The Beauty’s Beast right now and, it’s a weird thing, I wrote the first draft of that book a LONG time ago. Like…2005? I was such a different person; I was grappling with so many different things than what I’m dealing with now. I also was less self-aware (which is how hardcore slut-shaming of Beatrice crept into early drafts–it was expunged later).
For me, my writing is part of how I process what’s happening in my life. Free therapy, if you will. And it’s not that I’m writing autobiographies or anything, it’s more that I try to answer the big questions of my life by writing books about them. Can two people who loved each other once really get back together and make it work with their second try? What about their third? Their fourth? How do you heal a relationship when one person feels like they can’t be open about it? What does it take to be a couple? What do you compromise? How do you change to fit more neatly together? Etc, etc. 😉
Basically, if you know me in real life and you know my history it becomes pretty clear what particular issue I’m working through with any given book. Although most times it’s not clear until the book is done. I look the book over and I’m like, “Oh, I wrote this book right now because X thing happened.”
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how my books might be different if I’d written them at different times. What would Midsummer be like if I had finished it in my first attempt all those years ago? What about The Beauty’s Beast sequel? Would this be the plot I wanted to tell if I’d started this in 2005 instead of 2014?
I don’t really have any answers, but it’s just kind of interesting thing to think about. After all, it’s one of the worst kept secrets there is that writers steal bits of their lives and use it for their books.
There’s a great Neil Gaiman quote about this phenomenon and how he incorporates bits of his own true life into his stories: “If you get up close to a mosaic you see that it is made from lots of tiny tiles – red and green, brown and yellow, blue and black. All the little red tiles are true. But they aren’t the picture.”
And that’s pretty much how I feel too. I borrow bits of my own story, my own feelings and emotions from life to enrich my books. But my stories are not my life, and my characters are not me.
They sure do help me work through shit sometimes, though. ;P