Guilty as charged! I’ve often used fiction to make sense of real life. Aren’t certain stories specially tailored for this purpose? Think about Cinderella, couldn’t this fairytale be used to explain the basics of karma? Or Shrek, if one wanted to be more modern; that movie fully illustrates that a “book can not be judged by its cover”. Even an unsavory looking ogre has potential for great kindness, right?
You are probably wondering where I’m going with this, so here is my point. Yesterday morning, I was combating the Manhattan traffic while listening to an interview on NPR. The traffic horror got most of my attention of course, which might explain why I forgot the name of the person being interviewed *sigh*. All I remember is that he writes children’s literature and has the cutest English accent ever.
Anyway, his accent was quite lovely, but what caught my attention was something he said. He suggested that brining personal opinions and/or issues into fiction writing would be “cheating” the reader. He continued to say that reading should be fun and using the writer’s—or someone else’s—reality to tell a story, pretty much killed the fun factor.
My first thought was Geez my stories must be a fun vampires! I pour myself into everything I write. I don’t necessarily share my deepest desires and frustrations, for if I did I would probably be committed or put in jail. However, I do use my stories to portray truths that are too difficult for some people to even fathom. Some of these veracities are actually simple, but they haven’t touched some individuals at a personal level, so they care little about them.
A good example is the story I’m working on. One of my characters is HIV positive. The story is not about HIV, but it does offer glimpses into what living with HIV might be like. Not the nightmare that most people have heard of, but a normal happy life if the individual takes care of him/herself. Also, most of my stories include Pagan elements. Could my writing excude Paganism, and my belief that HIV positive people are as normal as everyone else? Probably; I just don’t want it to.
My writing is a reflection of who I am and what I believe in. If that is fun killer for some, then I’ll have to be happy writing for me and for those who are into reading dull fiction that touches reality every now and then. I understand that I can’t fight every battle with a story, but I know in my heart that to leave every personal belief out of my own writing would be the real act of fraud.
What do you think? Should fiction writers leave personal issues out of their stories? Or is the thought of it just an unlikely fairytale?