I once had a conversation with a therapist about dreams. He said that every component of one’s dream reveals something about oneself.
For me, the same can be applied to writing. Each character contains a piece of me. Yes, I layer and twist and sculpt each one to be unique and suited to his/her “role”, but at the core, a tiny fragment of me remains.
A few years ago, a friend offered to beta read a novel I was working on. I jumped at the chance. After all, I valued her opinion. I knew she was tough, but fair. She’d be supportive, but honest.
Like most writers, I became a tumbleweed of nerves when I handed it over. Would she like it? Was the plot exciting? Was it on point? Were my characters believable?
You see, we’re told from the start to write from the heart, as bravely as we possibly can. That the readers deserve our true honest selves.
You know that Ernest Hemingway quote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”? I may not take it literally, but I do take it seriously.
After a couple of months, my friend sent her thoughts. She liked my story. Some parts, she loved. Other parts, she offered constructive criticism that ultimately made it better. However, there was one section that she didn’t “get.” “No teen would ever react to the situation that way,” she said.
Only there was a teen who did.
My dad always used to say I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I guess I was surprised my friend didn’t recognize the “me” in that scenario.
I realized then that even though she didn’t, someone would. Someone who needed to.
Someone who, like me, has a secret.