As a writer, I sometimes feel a little exposed showing off various poems or short stories. There are always parts of myself in between the lines or, sometimes, just very blatantly there in the things I'm trying to say. Worse than that is the fear that people will read me into words that have nothing connected with myself. Like reading a poem and saying, 'Oh my God. That's awful. Is that how you feel/Did that happen to you?' No, it didn't. But I imagined the circumstance and put it into writing.
This week's Literary Blog Hop asked:
How do you feel
about fictional characters who are obviously closely based on the
author? Is this an example of authorial superego? Or just a natural
extension of the "write what you know" advice?
First off, how do you know? Who is a reader to assume that a character in a novel is in any way a representation of the author? I've read Thomas Hardy's letters, some autobiography, and some biography. I feel more acquainted with him, that I can recognise parts of his life and his character in his novels. But who am I to really say that Hey This Is This.
I know some writers personally, and it's always amusing to recognise parts of their personality in various characters. But obviously based on the author? I'm not sure a good writer would set out to do that. I see similarities and echoes of the writer, but only because I actually know them as a human being. And you might pick up a Katie Price book and say Oh Em Gee, that is so just her. As readers, we might have reason to believe that that is the case. But to say that obviously? Don't flatter yourself.
So how do I feel about fictional characters who are obviously based on the author? I don't. Because I wouldn't be so quick to make those assumptions. And nor should any reader, unless the author is someone they speak to, and can actually say that they're friends with.
The 'write what you know' mantra is an important one, but as a writer myself, I'd suggest that readers perhaps shouldn't be so quick to judge what is author and what is fiction.