The Toughest “Selfie”

The part in yesterday’s post about seeing Kindle-reading sunbathers “enthralled” in their books got me thinking some more. And when I start “thinking,” that’s possibly a bit dangerous. And when I start thinking “out loud” here, as you may know that’s perhaps worst of all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Time for a few “confessions,” so to speak. It’s Sunday, too, after all….

Church steeple. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Church steeple. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]

No one likes being “reviewed.” (No writer especially.) But “reviewing” yourself personally is the hardest of all. If you look in the mirror, what do you honestly think of yourself?

The toughest “selfie” to take isn’t of our outside. It’s facing our inside. Especially difficult is owning up to our own shortcomings.

As a writer, I firmly believe you are your own best writing resource. Unless your aim is to produce “escapist” fantasy, ironically your personal quirks, ugliness, mistakes and regrets of the past (and the present also) are potentially excellent story material. As I had put in a character’s mouth (based on a real conversation I’d had), fact can make great fiction when it’s repackaged as fiction:

Excerpt from "Distances," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Distances,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Those are just a few examples. Some of what I’ve written that has me plastered all over it makes me uncomfortable re-reading even at perhaps a couple of decades’, uh, shall we say, “distances.” It feels often not unlike rummaging through old letters or diary entries from long ago.

Yet in projecting our own faults and foibles onto our characters, we’re injecting a necessary reality. Doing that may also cause some reader to think, “Hey, I know what he’s on about there.” And that may pull a reader in still further.

I suspect most readers can spot a phony the moment they see it. I feel I can. I also feel that honesty on the pages resonates, while privately it also may help you as the writer better confront yourself.

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Author: โ€œConventions: The Garden At Paris,โ€ โ€œPassports,โ€ โ€œFrontiers,โ€ and โ€œDistances.โ€ British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.