‘The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.’ – Ernest Hemingway –
In telling true stories we have to reveal a lot of what we usually keep locked up and hidden, but to share these true stories you have to give a little bit of yourself with every word that you put down. You may think that by choosing to write fiction you can get around this but there is always a tell, a piece of yourself that goes into why characters react the way they do – even a plot twist can be a reflection of self.
In the lobby of the Washington Post there is an inscription that challengers reports / writers to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted. In an essay by Deneen L. Brown, ‘It [affliction] means piecing together the threads of humanity that makes us one, taking what is considered different and making it commonplace.’
Commonplace! I love this word because it covers a whole manner of topics. That is what you need to do as a writer. Even if you are writing about aliens, outer space, the deep ocean – whatever your heart chooses, you have to make the writing real and this usually means some kind of infusion of yourself into the text.
So, do not be afraid to write what you know or to draw from your past. Its the commonality, the commonplace, the familiar ground that will keep readers invested in a story, no matter out outrageous the plot or the setting. You have the power to ground anyone. Its in the small details; mannerisms, vocabulary, descriptions – draw from whats real and try and connect with as many people as you can. Find the commonplace that links you to your reader and then to the plot. I call it The Triangle of Connectivity.