In a previous post, I wrote about the inclusion or exclusion of certain familial pains. Whether the story you’re writing is a fictionalized memoir or autobiography, there’s a line to be drawn in regards to the inclusion or exclusion of these events and experiences.
Where do you draw the line between what you choose to include and exclude?
A Thousand Screaming Rabbits is certainly fiction, but the protagonist’s story mirrors my own in many ways. In that sense, it is part memoir. Alasdair’s journey, while different in terms of where it leads him physically, is the same in terms of realizations, inspirations and emotional growths along the way.
As such, I have incorporated- and will continue to include- much of what I’ve experienced. But at times I wonder if it’s ever too much.
Do I make these life-shaping moments Alasdair’s? Do I talk about the 2×4, the piece of lumber that was used as a swatting tool? Do I ask Alasdair to relive the moment at Denny’s when my father told me for the first time. He cried. I cried, much to my chagrin. Does Alasdair cry as well?
Does Alasdair become a mediator in his parent’s life, betwixt the marriage that will invariable fail? Does Alasdair lose his mind, and nearly die from it, all the while finding brief respite in writing about it:
The heart pangs became my pals, their everyday occurrence popping up to say hello. Hello Non, how are you doing? Oh, ha that’s funny…I know how you’re doing, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t! They were common and I didn’t think to attempt to discover their precise cause- I myself already knowing why they were there, their existence created in a dying body, a heart yearning to hold onto its beating rhythm. I remember how they felt: sharp, knife-like stabs into my chest, pains I usually calmed momentarily with deep breaths and the cigarettes I had started smoking, walking on in denial, an unconventional wispy trail of smoke mixing itself with the menacing clouds above my equally wispy, brittle hair. It was denial but it was also much, much more than that. Feeling my heart screaming for life, I didn’t care if I died (Mind Non Talbot Wels 2002)
Does Alasdair abandon his faith?
Yes, yes I believe he does- to answer all of those questions. A Thousand Screaming Rabbits is after all of this. Alasdair is an embodiment of the remnants. He’s making the decisions in reaction to those moments with his family, himself.
So I ask again: is it ever too much? Can one, a writer, include too much from one’s own personal life?
What are your thoughts?
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