I’m a fan of great quotes. I like to carry them around with me. Most of these quotes I get from the books I read and I write them down into a little black book. Some of these I return to and some just fill the pages. There are a few I’ve collected over the years that have stuck with me. Obviously, John Gardner’s stayed with me, and I thought I’d share a few others here and there.
I’ve read a lot of books about writing. I guess maybe I think that the more I read about it, the better I’ll be as a writer. There are a lot of ways to be a better writer, and there are a lot of things writers do that other people might think are weird or different.
And here is a perfect quote by Sara Lewis, from her Second Draft of my Life:
When I was a writer, I had to explain over and over again that my fiction was not based on my life. People never believed me. No one ever asked if my life was based on my fiction.
– Sara Lewis, Second Draft of My Life
I think most people tend to believe that fiction is based on the life or experiences of its writer. I know that I put a lot of myself into my stories. Sometimes it’s an experience, sometimes it’s a thought, sometimes it’s an emotion. It’s not always fact, though. I don’t write non-fiction. I don’t even take liberties and write creative non-fiction. I took one creative non-fiction in college and just wasn’t very good at it. I prefer my stories made up, so that’s what I do.
So it’s the other half of Lewis’s quote that feels more palpable to me.
Aren’t a lot of us reading because we want to escape? Because we want to experience something that isn’t happening in our own lives? Isn’t it the same thing as a writer? I can write about anything, whether I’ve experienced it or not. That’s what fiction is, and that’s what I love about it. If there’s something I wish I could do but don’t have the opportunity to do, I can do it — by writing it.
Now, if only I can get that last bit of the quote to come true, the part where I start making plans and taking chances so that my life becomes more like my fiction. Wouldn’t that just be grand? I could do anything, be anything, and live life more unexpectedly.