Monday, December 3, 2007

Is it autobiographical? II

Asked about if his books are autobiographical, John Updike said, “I count on people to know the difference between flesh and paper, and generally they do.”

Updike has more faith in the neighbors he was speaking of than I do in my family. I think they’ll see the similarities between themselves and my characters and assume that everything about that character is meant to be a description of them.

And while none of them are demonized or sanctified I hope (see earlier post on autobiography), the overall picture of those characters isn’t always flattering either.

That fear--that real people will see the characters as themselves and take offense--is another kind of self editing I had to repress while I was drafting. In fact, that form of self editing is a big part of what has taken me to so late in life to write anything.

I eventually just had to tell myself to worry about that later, that nothing mattered so much as finishing a draft. Now that I’m done with the draft and working on the rewrite, it matters a lot less. The characters have become more themselves and less like the people they were inspired by.

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