Art Imitates Life

I heard early on a writer is supposed to draw on her own experience to bring her writing to life. This is supposed to add depth and realism, yada yada.

It helps if you have some life experience upon which to draw.

Last month, going through Star of Justice, I remembered some of the life experiences that went into that book. I’d had a pretty severe reaction following a blood donation that sent me to the emergency room. I survived with the experience of what it’s like to pass out and vomit for three hours straight. Leaves you with some pretty interesting muscle aches, let me tell ya.

I’ve already admitted Caissa’s story seems to be my story (sans dragons) like many “first” books. So Caissa got to pass out several times and wake up with some pretty interesting muscle aches. Did it add realism? I don’t know. Nobody’s mentioned it. But I know it’s there.

In the sequel, which I started before I finished my second book Elementals, Caissa deals with some fairly severe physical and mental issues. The kinds of issues so painful she tends to avoid them rather than face them. At first, she doesn’t see that’s what she is doing.

My recent problems with panic attacks will help with this story. Because the stimulus led to such a strong unpleasant response for me, I avoided the stimulus. Then I avoided things that reminded me of the stimulus. Then I avoided things that reminded me of things that reminded me of…

You get the idea.

I hope Caissa will also get the idea and do what I did – turn to God for help. She’s not going to be able to solve this problem on her own. Just like I couldn’t.

How about your characters? Any particular moments or scenes that came straight from your life? That you’re willing to share?

How about you readers? What are your thoughts and feelings about realism in your fictional books?

About Robynn Tolbert

Born in Kansas and born again at age six, Robynn has published two novels and started her third. Robynn, aka Ranunculus Turtle, lives in Kansas with a clowder of cats, a patient dog and a garden.

4 comments on “Art Imitates Life

  1. Hmmm. There are certainly elements of my life that color my work…like Danae’s recently added habit of breaking her fingernails as a nervous tic. And there’s the whole “ailing father” thing, which characterizes my childhood. I’ve fussed with that so Danae gets to be an adult child of an ailing father and has an opportunity to be something other than a terrified bystander in the situation. Hmmm. Writing as therapy? 😉

    • I suspect most writing is therapy in one form or another, whether it’s obvious to the reader or not.
      I’m always concerned a reader will attribute me with a problem I don’t have but the MC does. 🙂

  2. You know, I don’t really put all that much of my life experience in my novels. However, I do use my experiences to help empathize with what my characters are going through. For instance, I’ve never lost my memories like the MC in Dividing Spirits, but I can relate to feeling on the outside of my life and not really fitting in or knowing what to do with my life.

    • I never thought I did. I’ve learned differently with time. I do wonder if it’s just the “first” book or if it will happen with all of them in some way or another. Maybe it’s just my therapy training rearing its clinical head.

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