If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die…
Or so the saying goes.
And it’s true. It’s also true if a writer gives birth to you, befriends you or if you are foolish enough to cross one…
Because that last means all bets are off.
There’s another saying:
Good writers borrow, great writers steal.
All too often those things that are borrowed or stolen are moments. Precious moments, passionate moments, moments of great pain – they’re all one thing to a writer:
That doesn’t mean I ruthlessly plunder other people for my characters and storylines. I’m careful not to hurt those I care about and simply smile sweetly when people joke that they need to watch what they say and do or they might end up in one of my books.
Those are the very people who don’t. The ones who do are entirely unaware. Unless, of course, I feel they genuinely deserve the exposure.
Take the ex-boyfriend (please) who wrote to me after my first novel was published asking if it was based on him. My response was succinct, ‘it’s fiction.’
But that didn’t stop me writing an entire blow-by-blow love scene in another book that was lifted from real life. And no, I’m not going to say which one but it gave me great joy and not a little kick to detail every awkward moment on the page.
Have I stopped to think and maybe steal the moment when something truly amazing or awful is happening to me or my loved ones? Absolutely not. But during conversations and casual encounters and even passionate kisses…yes, I confess I have tucked those in my mental pocket for possible use later.
There is always a part of me that stays separate at any of those moments in my life, one that coolly observes even as things fall apart or come gloriously together. I suspect it’s the same for most writers and it’s that ability to observe and then reproduce those thoughts and emotions in our work that gives it the essential ring of truth.
People love to have those ‘me too’ moments as they read, to identify, to think ‘oh my God, this is my life too,’ as a reviewer once said of me. And that comes from human experience and emotion rather than action or descriptive detail. It comes from sharing those things that have happened to you, that you felt in your very bones, so they resonate with your fellow human beings.
Never mind that my life is, as another reviewer says, ‘never boring.’ All my experiences, good and bad, will potentially touch another. So should those who have done me wrong shake in their shoes?
Those I love?
I have yet to kill someone I know on the page but never say never.
So, yes, it’s true…
If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.
For this writer, at least, it means you stay safe in my heart.