Go Fictionalize Yourself

I prefer writing fiction to writing non-fiction.  I realize that's a strange statement coming from a guy whose only published book is non-fiction and who has a blog that consists almost entirely of true stories.

My difficulty with writing non-fiction is that I get bored easily.  Most of the negative reviews I've gotten for "Pray" focused on the fact that the book is the story of the story, and that I've got three separate timelines going at once.  That's how I keep myself entertained.

I take a lot of material out of my life, but invariably twist the hell out of it to serve my purposes.  This has gotten me in trouble a few times because people sometimes assume that if one thing in my story is true, then all of it must be true, which is never the case for any writer ever in the history of the world, unless all they write is non-fiction -- and even then, it might not be true.

Last Friday (assuming it worked), I posted a short story called "Unrequited."  I've gotten nearly as much feedback on that story as I have on "Pray," and substantially fewer people have read "Unrequited."  All of that feedback has been positive; even people who dislike the ending still enjoyed the story.

I wrote another short story not too long ago that is connected to "Unrequited."  I'll withhold information on how, exactly, it's connected, because I don't want to ruin it for you.  But it turned out really well, and it made me realize that there's a certain amount of juice to "Unrequited," and that everything that stems from it seems to inherit some of its energy.

So I decided to put together a collection of short stories that are all somehow connected to "Unrequited."

One of these stories has a familiar theme: the story of the story.  I'm going back and writing a fictionalized version of how I wrote "Unrequited" nearly ten years ago.  This, of course, affords me the luxury of mixing and matching which parts of my life I pull from, and how much I change them to suit my purposes.

It's a strange thing, to write about yourself as a fictional character.  I actually do it an awful lot.  I would imagine a reasonable argument could be made that all of my characters are pieces of me in some way.

I've said in the past that I use a pen name because my life as a writer is different than my life as a regular person.  Basically, there's the stupid part of me and the responsible part of me.  The former would stay up late writing every night if the latter didn't tell him we have to go to work the next day.

But working on this new short story, I've started thinking that perhaps there's a third Kyle -- the fictional one.  Or, I suppose, the many fictional ones.

I have found that when I write about a fictional version of myself, I tend to take parts of my personality to the extreme, because in a story that's tolerable, while in real life I would have no friends.  I enjoy whiskey, but fictional me drinks pretty much all the time.  I over think everything, but fictional Kyle thinks to the point of debilitation.  I'm a reformed hopeless romantic (because, in the end, it turned out to not be hopeless), but that guy I write about who is a lot like me spends way too much time thinking about girls.

It will be interesting to see how this new short story turns out, and how people who know me respond to it.  Fortunately, most of them will probably read this blog post first.