Book rants, raves, & (w)rite-ups.

Literary Blog Hop for April

Book Rhapsody LogoThe Literary Blog Hop is hosted at The Blue Bookcase. I’ve always been checking this one out, but this is my first time to participate. I’ll try my best to make this a regular thing.

I remember telling one of my bookish friends that I’ll be joining this on my birthday month, and I think she also did the same. So yes, you are now free to call me a copycat.

Enough of that already. Here’s the question:

Literary Blog HopHow do you feel about fictional characters who are obviously closely based on the author? Is this an example of authorial superego? Or just a natural extension of the “write what you know” advice?

First, about what I feel: It still depends on how the characters are portrayed. A character resembling the author or any real person does not necessarily make him or her interesting. On a larger scale, the same is true with novels based on real life events. I do not mind though wherever the author draws the inspiration for the characters. It’s more about the execution.

Second, about the superego versus the write-what-you-know advice: I think it could be either. Oh well, let me explain. Sometimes, a writer may unconsciously portray a character without taking heed of the advice. Although the superego does not always reside in the subconscious, little slips occur here and there. This I was told when I attended a creative writing workshop years ago.

My characters were portrayed differently from the way I wanted them to act. I was told that I may be writing subconsciously, which can be crippling and which I have to curb and control. I was not told how it could be done, but anyway, I no longer write fiction. Maybe in the future. Let’s see.

On second thought, maybe a writer, a published writer, is quite trained in controlling subconscious writing, probably through constant practice and editing. It could then be said that they are merely writing what they know, no? But really, that is not a teeny piece of advice; it’s a must if one wants to create beautiful and solid literature.

Anyway, I don’t really know many characters based on the author. You see, I don’t really do background research on books and authors. I just dive straight to the text. Whatever information that I get in the introductions, if any, satisfies me. And when I find some interesting info about books and authors, particularly from overthinking bookish friends, I feel like an imp ooh-ing and aah-ing.

Now, I am reminded of my favorite author, David Mitchell. His Black Swan Green is semi-autobiographical. And then there’s Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer also based on the author’s life. I loved the former, and the latter is ugh, so far the worst book that I ever read. Do you see what I’m saying now?

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6 Responses to “Literary Blog Hop for April”

  1. Katie Willingham

    Sounds like you mostly agree with Blue Bookcase’s response. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, in a roundabout way. Have you heard about the Three Cups of Tea scandal? I never finished the book, unfortunately…the writing was very sentimental and stilted, but that wasn’t the point, of course. The point was about the incredible things Mortenson had done and how he did them….and the recent scandal saddened me because his book (which remained on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list for four years) is now smeared. What’s it worth once the man’s reputation is tarnished? His voice can no longer be trusted.

    But oddly enough, it taught me the value of fiction. Even if its based on life very closely, characters don’t have a reality off the page. They can’t have their reputations smeared, and in that way, the beautiful message of a book might remain intact whatever an author does or says later on.

    Reply
    • Angus Miranda

      I haven’t heard of the scandal, but the info you have given me is very interesting. I’ll look it up. I’m not a huge nonfiction reader though. I mean, there’s too much nonfiction going on my life, hahaha.

      I definitely agree with your last paragraph. Reality is not always a guarantee, and in the end, it is the message that matters the most when writers write something, whether it be fiction or not.

    • Katie Willingham

      I don’t read a lot of nonfiction either. Like I said, I didn’t even manage to finish Three Cups of Tea even though it came highly recommended. But the whole thing gave me some insight into why I choose fiction, or why an author might choose fiction, even a thinly veiled one.

  2. Monique

    I am SO looking forward to getting my hands on Black Swan Green, then. At least, get a glimpse at what’s going on in Mitchell’s head.

    I swear, if Mitchell (and Ishiguro, too) ever set foot in the Philippines, I’d just kill to get my books signed! And meet them in person!

    Reply
    • Angus Miranda

      If you’ve noticed, Mitchell mentioned the Philippines in Cloud Atlas. He also referred to Filipinas in number9dream. So there could be a chance, you think? :D

    • Monique

      Yes, I noticed the mention of Philippines in Cloud Atlas. Hmm. I’m crossing my fingers and everything else that can be crossed! :D

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