The “You” On Your Pages

After posting yesterday about the controversy swirling around out there about a possible “unmasking” of the real person behind the “Elena Ferrante” pseudonym for the huge-selling novelist, I returned once more to my “1794.”

Initially, as I tapped away in Word again, I found myself distracted. The controversy pushed my mind to a related issue: Regardless of whose name is on the cover, “who” is actually inhabiting your fictional pages in the first place? If you write, this question is probably familiar to you.

My home office. [Photo by me, 2016.]
My home office. [Photo by me, 2016.]

How much of you is really on those pages, but which no one but you of course truly appreciates? And what are you consciously changing about “yourself”? And what is perhaps subconsciously there that’s “you” despite even your best conscious efforts to alter it?

In the three Atlantic Lives novels, “James” is, well, to be honest, basically “me.” It’s not outright pseudonymous autobiography; I have taken loads of liberties: it’s fictionalized. However, his sense of himself and his general life outlook that landed on the pages is pretty much who I am – or more to the point, who I was, some twenty years ago:

Excerpt from "Distances." Click to expand. NOTE: "Pants" as written there is used in its American form, not British. Brad is talking about his trousers. :-)
Excerpt from “Distances.” Click to expand. NOTE: “Pants” as written there is used in its American form, not British. Brad is talking about his trousers. πŸ™‚

Then I thought on the Conventions pages I was looking at. The novel is nowhere near finished. (Unlike the previous three years, there will be no new book out around this Christmas. Sorry about that.) I have so much material still to use that it could be at least two full novels; but I don’t want to split it up. I’ve decided it will be a single novel and that’s that.

As you may also know, this is a change of pace. It’s of a larger scope and is a more history-based tale than my first three books. Yet to be a writer and try to escape who you are? Yes, I yet again stole from “myself” somewhat for the “leading” male character – this time it’s “Robert.” His living in upstate New York is the biggest “theft” I want to share right now; and there are additional aspects of him as well that are, again, essentially, “me.”

Sneak Peek from "Conventions." Click to expand.
Sneak Peek from “Conventions.” Click to expand.

But there’s this huge difference this time out. Unlike “James,” this “Robert” of over two centuries ago is shaping up to be less who I am, or was, personality-wise, than who I wished I could be or had been in my actual life. He’s more sure of himself, less fearful of failure, more willing to take chances, and, overall, more, in a sense, “dashing” and “heroic” (if those are the right words).

Funny, all these months of straining at recreating “1794” and I hadn’t noticed that developing “split” between my two “leading” male characters until only yesterday. We can sometimes utterly miss the blindingly obvious. It was the “Elena Ferrante” story that had opened my eyes to it.

Well, as they also say, onwards and upwards. Have a good day, wherever you are. πŸ™‚

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