Writing, a flattering self reflection?

There’s been some downtime in my writing world recently, partly due to work and life commitments and partly because I’ve been letting a story stew awhile. Now the time has come for me to get back into it and I’m very glad about it.

Not writing seems to mean that I have too much time to become introspective, and not in a good way. Writing, on the other hand, allows me to be pretty damn self indulgent but in a constructive (ha) way. It lets me bleat on and on about the things that are important to me, but it forces me to make the telling entertaining. I feel sorry for my real life friends who tend to get the unedited – and very vocal – versions.

This has all been making me think about that old chestnut, how much of what a writer writes is actually the writers’ self oozing out on the page?

I haven’t got an answer, but I reckon all my stories are made up of the dust, blood and hair my body can survive without.

It can be easy to bury yourself deep in the fiction though, even make it near impossible for the reader to really appreciate what essence of you is hidden away in it’s core. And with that thought in mind, I thought I’d chuck in an unfinished self portrait.

Lynsey May Self Portrait

This doesn’t look much like me at all, it’s more like me trying to make myself look more attractive and being let down by my drawing skills.

Maybe the same thing can be said for my stories: they are meant to show the me I’d like to be, but the really show my clumsiness and inability to transcend everything that makes me, me.

12 thoughts on “Writing, a flattering self reflection?

  1. Reading your post reminds me of a thought I’ve had regarding relationships- one of my favorite past-times… How when you’re looking for someone- you should look for someone who sees you not for who you are- but who you want to be, because no one wants to be loved for the very flaws they abhor about themselves- its a love you can’t understand and will likely rebel against or otherwise destroy because it will always seem like a lie. But if you find someone who loves you for you want to be, then you can understand that love- and appreciate its kindness, leaving you to deal with your flaws alone- privately- the way it should be.

    But I could be wrong.

    Personally I write using as much as I can of myself and then just deny it has anything to do with me later- just to keep things interesting.

    Or maybe I’m just saying that- and none of what I write has anything to do with me at all… and I’m saying THAT to keep things interesting.


    • I think denial is the best way. Flat out, point blank denial along the lines of ‘of course I don’t think that about you.’

      I reckon I have almost the opposite idea on the relationships thing. I totally agree with you that no one wants to be loved for their flaws, but at the same time I’m totally scared of people loving an ideal, aspirational version of me. What if I don’t live up to it? What if they realise the truth? *meltdown*

      I like the idea of appreciating the kindness of love though, a lot. Cheers for your comment!


  2. I guess there’s a difference between putting yourself into your writing and speaking through it. In the book I’m editing, I’ve noticed some very clear instances of ‘author’s voice’. It’s like the narrative suddenly changes and someone else starts speaking – and it’s clearly the ideas of the author coming through. It’s really hard to describe but very obvious when you find it. And it spoils the story.

    As subjects we’re only really capable of being, well, subjective. Even when we’re being objective. Even when we’re acting. There is no escaping the self, ever, but you can still remove yourself from it enough to feel like you have. I don’t think it’s possible to do anything without leaving your signature – like how we all have our distinctive voices, writing styles, use of grammar… and you can change all that up to ‘break the rules’ but the chances are it’ll either still feel like you or feel in… dis… un… not genuine – and that’ll pass on to the reader.

    I think what you said about being able to bury your author essence deep into the story where it can only be found by the trained eye or perhaps simply someone that knows you well is about right. You can make it as obvious or complex as you like. And while not all stories are necessarily expressive of their writer’s beliefs and opinions, there is still something of the writer in there.

    Their soul o_o which they’ve sold in order to get published! Cripes.


      • Oh man, that is one of my biggest pet peeves, I don’t want no stinky author telling me what they REALLY think. I hope I always manage to cut those bits before anyone else reads them – I really hope so.

        Yeah, I agree and don’t think it’s really possible to do anything wihtout it having that signature you mention. I guess I sometimes wonder how unique that signature really is, if you know what I mean. Man, it’s too early in the morning for this chat – I haven’t even had any coffee yet.

        Also, maybe I have?! I blame it on having no KT on my team… and the fact I was at a wedding. :p


  3. Along with the rest of the world, I don’t make much sense to myself… I guess the act of writing is about the effort to understand who I am and also let the world know and understand my true self… I have this urge to help people understand what is going inside my head (and yes- it does sound a bit narcissistic!) 🙂
    Great drawing by the way- even if it doesn’t look like you… 🙂


    • hehe, welllll, only a little! But if you didn’t want to, I don’t know why else you’d put yourself through all the more annoying bits about writing! and thanks, I kinda regret putting it up now!


  4. This talk about the author always pouring themselves into characters/stories actually TERRIFIES me. A lot of my characters are not nice people. And this makes me wonder, sometimes, if the “nice” person everyone meets is actually just a farce forced on my by society or an image cultivated by me to make my life easier.

    Well. Enough of that.

    I like your drawing. I don’t know if it does or doesn’t look like you but at least it looks like a PERSON. My drawings always look like those egg-outlines you see on all the bupa ads, only those are kinda cute and my efforts are just ugly. It doesn’t help that I sit in a studio full of designers and illustrators all day. Sometimes they laugh. This is not conducive to a healthy working environment and I’ve said so but they just laugh harder. Serves me right for correcting the grammar on all their emails (in red) and sending them back.

    Your picture is amazing. Don’t regret putting it up.


    • Aw, thanks very much. I like your description of your drawings a lot. It doesn’t help being surrounded by professionals at all! An awfully high percentage of my friends are artists, but I’m lucky that at work I’m mainly in with the techies – so I don’t care so much when they mock me!

      Yeah, I find it a bit scary too – also the fact that people will assume that you must in some part mean the things your nasty, nasty characters may say. But I don’t think being able to create unsympathetic people means you aren’t sympathetic or nice yourself, if anything, I think it generally means you’re more empathetic and understanding in general. That’s what I tell myself anyway!


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