If you haven’t read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman yet, you probably should. It’s easy to read but has so many different layers to it. An example of perfect storytelling, in my opinion, and something for me to aspire to. Of course, Amanda Palmer has a much more compelling blog post on why you should read it, so I won’t try to convince you. That’s not what this post is about. What I want to talk about is what Amanda (aka Mrs Gaiman) eludes to in her post, the marriage of fiction and reality.
Every author puts something of themselves in their work, whether subconsciously or not. Our experiences shape how we think. But to put yourself out there, and consciously put your past in your work leaving people guessing like Neil Gaiman did, that takes a lot of courage. And as I’m finding out, also a lot of skill.
I bring this up because I’m working on a short story at the moment, a tale that I started long ago with my father when I was still a little girl. Since he passed away, it, and all our shared stories, have taken on a new light. I want to get them out there now more than ever. So now I am trying to incorporate my own feelings about my dad’s death with the old story and turn it something that incorporates the old and new state of affairs. All fiction, but deeply personal. I have no idea if I’m going to be able to pull it off, but I hope so. It would be a fitting tribute to his memory, and a catharsis at the same time.
As positive as the experience could be, I am finding it very difficult to keep writing, to find the right tone and plot. ‘Pure’ fiction is so much easier, freer somehow, not just because this would dealing with my past but also a story started with someone else. I want to stay true to it, but of course I am a different person. Different from my father, different from my past self. It will never be as it would have been. I guess that is something we must all accept at some point in our lives. In the meantime..