Family is one of my biggest impediments to my writing. I ask that my family not read anything I write. In fact, my husband has never read a word that I’ve written, and I would like to keep it that way. It’s not that I exact revenge on my loved ones by recording and embellishing their flaws and foibles, but they are in there. Of course, they are part of my experiences. I cannot create while I worry about their reactions or my guilt.
I think people who don’t write don’t really understand writing. They probably do not cultivate the voices they hear in their heads, let alone admit to having them. They probably do not hoard and catalog moments, details, and phrases that stick onto writers as if they are giant Velcro poster boards that wander through life. It takes a level of practiced and skilled derangement to create characters. People I know do end up in my writing, but they show up in fragments and composites. My stories are a mosaic of everything I have experienced.
Another aspect of creativity that non-writers may not understand is that sometimes writers just pull things out of thin air. Sometimes I write a scene and I have no idea how it got on the page or where it came from. It’s like there’s an invisible jet stream of ideas coursing over our heads and if you are still, quiet, and listening you might be lucky enough to hear it.
I don’t want my loved ones to read something and then wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I wonder that about writers sometimes. Does Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, belly up to the Thanksgiving turkey while her family discusses how they never knew what a sick fuck she was? Does her husband upon finishing the novel decide it best to be the one to carve the bird while he declares from now on the Flynn’s are a plastic flatware family?
If you met Stephen King would you agree with everything he says not so much because you find him delightful, but because you were so terrified by Salem’s Lot that you had to remove your copy from your house and throw it in a commercial dumpster?
Inspiration is hard. Writing when I should be living is hard. The fear that I may hurt someone I love is paralyzing. That’s why I tell my family that writing makes me happy, and if you love me, don’t read what I write.