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Hide and Seek

Just like every other writer, I sometimes get the question where I get my ideas from, and then there’s the unavoidable if my characters happen to be based on myself or on people I know.

My first instinct is to say that no, it’s not about me. And that’s not even a lie or a subconscious blindness to reality. Stories are just there, or perhaps I should say characters are there and things happen to them. If enough things happen that are actually interesting a story is born. Pure magic.

But, that magic happens in my head. Out of all the information that’s stored in my brain, the things I’ve seen and heard and read, most of it forgotten enough to feel like I never knew about it in the first place, some emerge in the form of a sentence, a thought…the start of a story.

I’ve never felt the need to write directly about myself, but is it really a coincidence that I tend to create characters who are introverts with a strong need to try and understand their every emotion with the help of rational thoughts? Yes, even if they have sex, or especially when they have sex. Or would I have written in quite the same way if I had been straight instead of a lesbian with a thirty year marriage (even though I can only officially call it that for the last ten years, and yes, what influence has that fact on my writing?) Didn’t have children, or daughters instead of sons? Had lived at least partly closeted instead of fully out? Hadn’t come from a working class background? Had met different people in the course of my life? Had a different type of body?

No, my work is never directly autobiographical, but somewhere, hidden between the words, I’m there. And something tells me we writers are always there, playing hide and seek in our stories.

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