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How Personal Should I Get?

Reflecting on writing when it becomes personal

With two completed novels currently looking for publishers, I have turned my hand to writing something new and 'completely different'. Firstly, it is a genre that I have never written in before – Young Adults – and secondly, I am finding that vast parts of my writing are somewhat autobiographical: incidents from my childhood, memories, interactions, real people and real places.

Sure, the writer and her psyche always slip in somehow, whether we acknowledge or deny this; whether it is intentional or an act of the subconscious. And, it is true that 'write what you know' is a well-known mantra for all writers... it is easier to have an authentic voice when you write from your inherent experiences and knowledge. But in my current writing – which may never see the light of day – I find myself actively summoning events from my past.

Is this a psychological purge for the sake of the author? Is it because I genuinely feel that the story I have to share could be interesting for others? I am not sure, but, it is taking me a long time to write and unlike my previous ventures, I am not convinced that I will finish it. Quite unlike me. I like to wrap things up. I like closure.

I have a couple of questions that I am grappling with around this latest project:

How personal is too personal? Should there be a limit to how much I allow myself, the writer, to slip in between the pages?

Will I need to be held accountable for what is real and what is fictitious? And if so, to whom? My family? My readers? Just myself?

And finally:

Why am I writing this now? What is the significance of baring my soul, or parts of it anyway? Is it the day and age that we are living in? Or, is it just me?

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