Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I put the "me" in meme
My husband loves three things: his family, running into burning buildings, and spoofs of motivational posters. For years he's been completely enamored of Demotivators, those fake motivational posters made up of, for example, a picture of a bear about to feast on a feisty salmon plucked from the water, with the caption, "AMBITION: A journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly." More recently he discovered this internet meme called Courage Wolf, which is very similar to its above imitation: Writer Leopard. He tracked down Writer Leopard just for me, and I love it as much as he guessed I would.
Speaking of not letting your family read your work, some people might be curious, upon reading "The Kingdom of Childhood," as to how I could write such a book when my parents might read it. "Kingdom" delves deep into one of the most singularly uncomfortable topics of all time: parental sexuality. To put it in layman's terms, both Zach and Judy are deeply skeeved out by their parents' adventures in being human. It's something they can talk about with each other-- a topic that transcends age, because we never reach an age when we decide it's not icky to think about anymore. Believe me, I didn't write about it because I'm more comfortable with it than the average person. Maybe I'm just traumatized to the point that I had to write about it.
But to get back to the subject of how to channel your hostilities toward your family into your fiction without alienating them, this is not a topic I know very much about. I've already succeeded in alienating most of my family without even needing to venture into fiction, so that makes it relatively simple to write whatever the hell I want without worrying about who I'll embarrass. I can see how it would be difficult otherwise. Really, I don't want to hurt any feelings, don't want anyone to suspect they inspired a character who is less than likable. But in general, if a writer tries to create a "thinly veiled" character based on a real person, it doesn't come out well. Her impressions, her subconscious, her hurts and loves, are what inspires the work. And if anyone were to feel hurt by what my subconscious coughs up, I'm like the Honey Badger: I just don't give a shit. It's mine.
If you'd like to see more Writer Leopards, go here. And if you'd like to listen to me babble some more on my therapist's couch, go here.