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Reality Check Is it me or is this the latest in attempts to regulate and hold in check, the writer's imagination?


Full Member
Ah, and then there's the truth that, even if I'm writing from lived experience, my experience might be different from others who technically have the same lived experience. I've been slammed for a depiction of a woman's response to rape because, "No one would ever respond this way." I had been using my own experience with rape and my response as a guide for my fictional character ... Hmmm ... Guess I'm no one. It's not the only time that's happened when I write from my own head--it's obvious I process things differently from other people. I try to steer clear of writing directly from my own experience of life now and do tons of research about other people with the same or similar experiences, so I'm writing a more generic experience.
Every person's experience is not the same as the experience of any other person. Even when we create a person in a story, these people are not the writer, nor likely to be anyone the writer knows -- not the whole character, anyway, because the story marks them as unique to the story.

With your experience and the experiences of others, no two responses are ever the same. Even the person who appears to be unfeeling or unresponsive is doing their best to deal with it, even if it's a mask -- eventually, the mask comes off. Whether anyone else is there to see it is another matter. But it is never a cold thing, it is never dispassionate, and it is never the same as someone else's experience.
Little kids (sorry to bring this up) will try to hide the experience if they're told it's dangerous to tell. Others have guilt because they're told it was their fault for some reason. Others believe it's shameful if anyone knows. It's a societal taboo to speak about some things ... isn't that where the discussion came in? Being sensitive to the lives of others?

Once we split the cell, we are never the same as any other person, even if our DNA is 98.99% the same. Our 'community of life/practice/socialisation/culture' cannot be aligned with more than a rough estimate. Which is why we strive so hard to make our characters real, distinct, unique.

On that note ... quote:
Tolstoy, for one, writes so simply and convincingly about people of all ages and both sexes that you can’t help feeling he is simply writing what he has experienced, although you know perfectly well Tolstoy has never been a young mother or a girl in love for the first time. Not everybody can be Tolstoy, but if you hope to do even competently what he did supremely well, you must cultivate three things: • acceptance of your own feelings • observation of other people • role-playing

Knight, Damon. Creating Short Fiction (p. 22). ReAnimus Press. Kindle Edition.

Ali D

I agree with CageSage, this feels like alot of expended energy when the fact is that most of what we're writing won't be published at all. Worrying about being straight jacketed by censorship or "identity politics" is much less relevant than not being recognized just due to a lack of interested readers...

I will say, as someone who rarely read characters that resembled themselves growing up, the increasing diversity of lived experiences or authentic fascimilies thereof revealed in various forms of popular literature in recent times has been fantastic to follow, as a fan.

Robinne Weiss

Full Member
Not sure about this. Researching other people's feelings so you can write to please? The people critical of you were probably adopting a party line of how one should respond to rape. As you say, we are all different so no way are you ever going to please everyone and it is often someone's unique take on something that is so interesting.
It's a nice thought, but I'd actually like to sell my fiction to more than the five other people on the planet who think like me. LOL! I'll save the weird stuff for the memoir. The truth doesn't need to be realistic, but fiction does. Besides, I've been studying normal people for half a century in order to pass. I can certainly write about them. :)