Let’s get real.
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to put sentences together. As you might imagine, my early works were nothing short of stupendous. I wrote about axe killers, monster cats, and I think a ghost bridge, or something. They were really good. And they always involved death, or blood, or something unnatural stalking people. My mother was concerned for me. “Why don’t you write about something normal?” she used to ask. “What’s wrong with zombies in a shopping mall?” I’d respond. (I hadn’t actually seen Dawn of the Dead at that point, but I did know that somewhere out in Planet Earth there existed a film with that same plot, so I co-opted it for my own purposes.) I was okay with writing about murders and monsters, even if she wasn’t. To appease her, I tried writing something “normal” and it bored me.
Somewhere around middle school I tapered off the writing. I don’t remember for what reason, though I was likely too busy being traumatized by girls and the sudden realization that I was not at all cool. High school continued this trend, though I did write a pretty kick-ass compare/contrast paper on apples and oranges, as well as contribute to the school paper as a features writer – a position I didn’t take terribly seriously. I wrote purposeful praiseful reviews of movies I knew to be terrible just to make people seek them out. I wrote about my fateful encounter when one night I saw Burt Reynolds in a limo parked outside an IGA. But my ultimate highlight of this brief temporary journalistic career came when I quoted a random girl’s completely unintelligent comment I overheard in one of my classes while I was trying to…you know…learn. So, I wrote an article about it, reiterated the quote, and proceeded to bemoan that it was this kind of bewildering and nonsensical rubbish I was forced to subject myself to on a daily basis instead of utilizing the high school curricula to better inform and educate myself. When the article was published, every other girl in my grade thought it was about her and yelled at me. (Doesn’t exactly say all that much about the level of intellect or confidence at the senior level of my high school, now does it?)
During my tenure at Rowan University, I got back into writing nearly full time. I wrote features during my time with a local parenting magazine and independently authored an article/interview for Weird NJ Magazine involving a local marketing gimmick named the Uniroyal Tire Woman – a 30-foot statue of a woman modeled after Jackie Kennedy who stands tall on a major road in Blackwood, NJ. I researched its history and interviewed the owner of the auto repair shop where she stood. “I even have her measurements,” the interviewee said with a grin, and I nervously thanked him and left the room.
I wrote more. I wrote everything. I wrote short fiction, long fiction, screenplays as jokes, screenplays for serious, a few terrible love notes, multiple terrible “take me back” notes, two best man speeches, and one eulogy. As a social experiment, I wrote lies. I made up stories about myself. I attempted to see how far I could go and see how convincing I could be before I blew my own ruse. What are writers, after all, if not really good liars? If you already have the perfect details in place, people will believe anything. The more mundane the details are, the more convincing the lie becomes. (I don’t do this anymore because it was admittedly weird – only an experiment; short-lived, but helpful.)
Who you are is in everything you write, regardless of how fantastic or absurd your adventure becomes. It’s impossible to write something and not inject yourself at least partially into your characters, conflict, or the fear that permeates the small town where your story takes place. Look at Stephen King: He’s been writing about male New England authors overcoming their fears since his career began.
So, having said that, I’m in everything I write. Fully, partially, or minutely. I’m there, somewhere. You should know that if you choose to proceed.
And I hope that you do.