Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Dollop of Personal Experience

I think the title for this blog comes from a book by Terry Prone called Write and Get Paid for It, but I may be misquoting. I liked it, though.

Before I start, I wanted to say thanks for all the lovely comments on Microfiction Monday this week. I've had a horribly stressful week (nothing serious, don't worry!) and they really lifted my spirits, so thanks to all and to the new followers whose blogs I'm looking forward to reading. It's been a very good blogging-and-writing week overall actually.

I was sitting around yesterday thinking of how I could tell you all that I'm on the long-list for 100 Stories for Queensland without just, you know,
saying it. I couldn't have a whole post that just said 'Guys, I'm on the long-list! Chuffed to bits! And so is Kitty, chuffed to bits for her too!' It's barely a line, and you guys have novels to avoid. I needed to come up with something more to say on the subject.

The good news is, I found it and I'll try to make it quick.

My piece was very autobiographical. Not completely (I took quite a few liberties, made some things sound worse than they were), but it dealt with something that really happened to me, or rather something I really did.

Two-and-a-bit years ago, I went interrailing, as lots of young Europeans do. But I went while I was suffering from quite bad panic attacks, which is somewhat less common, and the trip helped with that a lot. One might think that haring across a continent, armed with very heavy backpacks (yes, I had two backpacks, but one was small), getting by in four languages (five if you count English) and with only ten fingernails to bite, would make a person a bit anxious. It seemed to have the opposite effect on me.
So when I saw the guidelines for 100 Stories for Queensland, and I saw the word 'uplifting', I went to one of the most uplifting moments of my life for inspiration - my first glimpse of the clear September sky over the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

Writing about something semi-autobiographical did throw up some issues though. I deliberately focused the writing on myself, and not on my travel buddy, but when my travel buddy did demand a mention, I left her anonymous. She didn't even get a placeholder name. I exaggerated some bits and left out others, and ended up with something that was quite true to the experience if it wasn't strictly factual at all times.

Do any of you guys write much autobiographical stuff? Do you change it much?

PS Have an amusing list of Neil Gaiman facts, link nicked from Janet Reid's blog:


  1. Hiya, I'm so happy to meet you. I'm from Dublin too, although living in India. Thanks for visiting my Microfiction Monday piece on Write Away, one of my blogs ( I'm quite addicted to blogging although I'm starting to do more 'real' writing and less blogging these days. I read that book "Write and Get Paid for it" years ago, I left my copy back in Dublin and I think my mother threw it out! I'll be back again to see you!

  2. Nice to meet you too! Write And Get Paid for it has been reissued in brand-spanking-new form by a new publishing house called Londubh Books if you ever want another copy :)

    Living in India must be very interesting, looking forward to reading your blogs.

  3. Well done on reaching the long list!

  4. Thanks Donna :) Fingers crossed for the shortlist now, not sure when it's due to be released. . .

  5. Alas poor Queensland has been copping more. The biggest cyclone since 1919 hit the coast of FNQ last night.

  6. So I heard, Al. The news this morning is that there have been no fatalities reported so far, which is a relief, but still a dreadful new trial for the residents to face.

  7. I don't write autobiographical stuff, but I do incorporate "real" life into my fiction all the time. Happy you got your stuff in the long list!! And hoping Australia gets through this difficult time soon!! So sad for them.

  8. I do incorporate elements of real life into my work from time to time, but not to the point where I'd call it autobiographical.


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