I get asked this question a lot when I tell people I am writing a book. I get asked how much of it is from my own life. I can understand why someone would wonder this. I am an artist. I love music. I love words. I love writing. I’m a photographer. I love Magritte. I know what it feels like to fall in love. I know the emptiness that you are left with when a loved one dies. My characters in Penance love these things, are these things and have experienced these things as well, but that is where the similarities end. Well I also have a tattoo on my wrist with a word that is meaningful to me and other literary tattoos, but that is where the commonality stops. This is their story, not mine.
I was thinking about the concept of writing the other day and where my desire to write came from. I believe I have always had the writing bug in me since I was a child, I just hadn’t fully realized it. If I were to have an impending conversation lingering on the horizon that I dreaded, I would contemplate all the possibilities where it could go. The conversation would play out in my mind fifteen different ways and I would gauge what the reaction of the other person would be based on what I knew of them. Character development at work.
Someone would do something that I found fascinating and I would then think on what I found fascinating about it. The turn of their head, the way their hair fell, the way their eyebrow raised, the way they sat quietly looking out a window, watching the rain. I think of words to describe what I am viewing. I observe and describe constantly in my mind the world around me. Scene development.
Observing the world and taking in the differences amongst people and what makes them tick is the driving force behind everything I write. Hell, here I am analyzing my own actions right now in creating this blog. So there you have the answer to the question. There is a lot of me in my book, but there is a lot of me not in the book.
I have other books planned that are nothing like Penance with the depth and sadness the characters in it hold. Some are fun and carefree, some are shy and reserved, some are superficial and some have the need to escape from reality. None of those are me and all of them are me, just like all of them are you and none of them are you.
I do believe what makes a book good is when each of us can find ourselves in some aspect of a character. I hope that comes across in Penance and the books I have planned for the future. Not just for readers, but also for me, because I don’t want to write anything that lacks humanity and the driving force to evolve and become more than what we are.