Reading our writing; to find out who we are

Whenever you write something whether it be an essay, short story, or novel you have gone back and read through it, have you not?  When we go through and read something that we wrote we work on grammar, punctuation, and over all flow of the story.  Why not go back and re-read everything with an attempt to get a better grasp on who we are as people?

Which of your characters do you resonate with the most?  Which of your characters were inspired by people in your life and why did you select them to be a part of your story?  What situations do your characters go through that you have seen and experienced first hand?  Are these characters reacting the way you wish you had, or wanted to react?

These questions come to mind after reading over an essay in the book,  “Words Overflown by Stars“.  The essay is titled “The Fictional “I” in Nonfiction” by Phyllis Barber.  She goes on to interpret the way nonfiction authors find their voice when writing.  Using a matryoshka doll as her illustration she describes how it can be taken apart again and again.  A new layer revealed each time until you can’t split it anymore.

Reading over her words of wisdom, I couldn’t help but to think of the two books I have out now and how much of my personal life is within those pages.  I then think about the phrase my mom always tells me which inspired this new book.  Having had my interest peeked I went back to review a few chapters of my work.  Although it was me writing the entire time I found it almost therapeutic to take a distant look at myself through a readers eyes.  The reader may never have to know which parts resonate the most with you, but face it there’s a big peace of you in there.

Now, the next time you set out to edit, and redraft, make sure you check out the side of you revealed through your writing.  You may be surprised to see what you find. Me, I was terrified.

Thank you,

Caleb A. Mertz


Posted on September 16, 2010, in Rants, thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Very true. It’s a great idea to read your work like a reader every now and then. It will not only give you a better idea of your characters, but also of yourself. Finding your voice is one of the hardest things to do as a starting fiction writer (in my opinion, at least).

    The fun things are when you put little pieces of yourself in your writing, inside jokes, or common phrases you say. The average reader would only take it at face value, but if someone close to you reads it, they’ll know it’s you. Those little pieces of personalization are what truly makes a story your own.

    The imagery of the matryoshka doll is fantastic, as well.

    Thanks for the post,

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