1. Katherine Melmore
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    Katherine Melmore Member

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    Do you write semi autobiographically?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Katherine Melmore, Apr 14, 2014.

    I write semi autobiographical theatre and short film.

    I don't know if I can think of any higher vanity. I have had the short film short listed for Vimeo film awards in NYC and have no idea whether the semi autobiographical semi sci-fi full length play I have written will ever have any interest.
    I wrote an autobiographical monologue which has been performed in Connecticut, but that was just a 5 minute piece and the short film wasn't much more than that.

    I am reading Karl Ove Knausgaard at the moment. A death in the family.

    That is very raw autobiographical fiction and I love it.

    I feel like I'm in therapy now asking this!

    I really could not write purely in the first person. I tried it. When I put it into a visual medium in the third person I enjoy writing this stuff. It is not far from my own life story which I use and I don't know whether you think there is anything wrong with that?

    I just feel like how could I think that other people would be interested. Other people - if I imagine another person doing this I would think badly of them. But not Karl Ove Knausgaard, or probably anyone else.

    Anybody else feel like this?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wrote semi autobiographical fiction in first person pov before, and you are right, it can be very therapeutic. Not making it 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth' can play into our feeling guilty or like frauds, but writers feel that anyway on and off. The final story is what's important.

    Congratulations on the success with your work so far, btw :)

    I too found that audiences are quite interested in authenticity, and using actual events from real life, within a lager fictional narrative, makes it 'come alive' in a sense. What there's little interest for are proper autobiographies of unknown people. Often these are sad stories and authors lose the sense of humour (too close to home) or try to settle old scores, all of which makes reading them a bit tiring. I haven't read Knausgaard though.
     
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  3. Katherine Melmore
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    Katherine Melmore Member

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    Not sure if I've been very clear.
    I mean I do find it very therapeutic, yes. But I wonder if this is the most despicable type of writing. I feel very annoyed with myself for not having more original ideas and find myself really cringing if I read any of my first person stuff.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've written both 'semi' and full'...

    have put some parts of my life into much of my fiction in full detail, 'adapted' other parts to fit the stories...

    and have written both humorous and serious full-fledged autobiographical stuff in both prose and poetic form...

    i don't find any of the above any harder to do than the rest...
     
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  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like I said in my comment, it can feel 'wrong' but there is nothing wrong with it. 'Most despicable' is an odd way of putting it, beyond typical writer neurosis I don't see the relevance of the term. So in short - no, it's not the 'most despicable' etc.

    If you cringe at your first person semi-auto stuff, it just means you haven't written it well. The cringe factor is a great guide in that style of writing, aim to lose the cringe factor because then, the writing will be interesting for others. Or, come to think of it, you said you did films, and I have no idea how this translates in that medium. I can only comment on the writing side of things.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
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  6. Katherine Melmore
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    Katherine Melmore Member

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    I see. I haven't thought much about typical writer neurosis. Do you mean the idea of thinking your writing is good and then sharing it and hating what other people say about it? and being paranoid because you want everyone to think it's good including publishers?

    I find the ideas for the semi autobiographical stuff (the parts of it that are fiction) do come when I'm actually writing it. And other times, I just find pure fiction impossible, in fact I haven't tried since I was a kid, so maybe it would be possible.

    I think I stare at my navel too much. That's all really.

    I think you might be right on the cringe factor stuff jazzabel. Interresting.

    I am finding sharing my work a very important stage in writing, as I'm writing for theatre. I've had actors over for a read through and I'm having the same people over to a studio for a rehearsed read through - just to iron it out.
     
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  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes and no. The first part I'd called the 'bruised ego syndrome', and novice writers typically suffer from this, where they are in love with every word they wrote, they are totally wrapped in their own little world, they can't bear to change their 'creative process' in order to 'appeal to the readers' because they are all about the 'purity' of their ideas and other reasons. But since the nature of writing involves criticism, no matter how good a writer one is, the only way to enjoy writing for the audience is to not let negative opinions affect you negatively Having said that, I think most readers, no matter how inexperienced, have an instinct for bad writing, so I listen to the critique of anyone and everyone, as a guide. Not so that I can emulate what they want, but so I can understand the patterns of what makes a good narrative, and see how it applies to my writing.

    Wanting the publishers to like it is every writers goal, and from people I know, who wrote insanely popular bestsellers (ok, only one I know really well) even when the publisher believes in you, and you got a mega three movie rights deal with one of the biggest Hollywood houses, you still panic, feel like a fraud and are terrified to hear early reviews. It's a normal part of putting yourself out there because no matter how outlandish our premises are, they contain our personal truths, and that makes us vulnerable.

    I was really lucky, I started writing autobiographical stories on a blog and had loads of fans there. That validated me before I even knew I needed validation. Then I moved elsewhere with a proper semi-auto project, a novella, again, the fans put me through the whole rigmarole of what you can expect when you hit big time, the good, the bad and the ugly. It was on a smaller scale, but over the few years, over 200 000 unique visitors so overall, I think it was a representative experience to an extent. It made me so much better prepared for the actual writing career (which I'm now attempting) and I don't feel any rush or anxiety, I just know how good I need to be in order to get published.

    I envy you so much, I was going to be a film director and did a few plays at a student theatre that did really well, had my first two screenplays written, and then my family emigrated so I never realised that dream. It must feel so wonderful, writing plays. Good for you :)

    ps. Forgot to say, cringe factor is every writer's best friend. At the highest level of prose, there should be zero cringe in reading it, only delight or total immersion where you set out to re-read a paragraph but come to your senses a chapter later. That's the stuff, imo :)
     
  8. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I can't imagine anyone being interested in my life.
     
  9. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    I do. The important thing is to not confuse autobiography with history or sociology.
     
  10. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't taken that seriously a stab at fiction yet, but of the one story I am taking somewhat seriously (although it's kicking my ass and I may never finish it), is made up of lots of bits of me, as well as people I've met in my life. It's a cathartic process and, in a way, a result of my otherwise handicapped imagination. I don't know how people write about people of other sexes/genders/races. I mean, I know how they do it, it just seems like it would be really draining. To take yourself completely out of the characters, except for the basic-ness of connecting as being human. Ergh.
     

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