“Write as if your parents are dead.” – Anne Lamott
Countless people have asked me to write them into my books. They want to be mentioned or want me to base a character off of them. They love the thought of seeing their name in print, of being a ‘muse’.
I wonder if they really know what they are asking.
As a writer, my entire life is potential writing content. Every person I meet, every food I taste, every place I see, everything I learn – it is all fuel for my writing. My experiences directly relate to my art. I have always known this, and it is part of my desire to travel and live like I do (for anyone new to the blog: I am a nomadic backpacker, homeless for nearly 8 months now).
All of my experiences are colored with my specific perspective and personality. Just like every other human being, I am entitled to my own thoughts and opinions. This includes the negative.
The art and process of writing, as Ernest Hemingway once said, is ‘writing the truest sentence you know’. What’s true isn’t always kind or flattering – something Anne Lamott has clearly noticed. Good writing is honest, about ourselves and about others. Sometimes, that means writing something that is uncomfortable.
That’s the beauty of it. Life isn’t always comfortable. Some people are jerks. We all have bad days. Traumas will stare us all down at some point. It is these bits, in writing, that are the most compelling. Our suffering is human. Our imperfections are human. It makes sense to us. We connect to it, understand it, empathize with it. They are the most valuable parts of writing.
So if I know you at all, if I have been made aware of your existence, maybe I will write about you. Maybe I won’t. But I will be honest.