Checking One’s Baggage at the Door
Posted On May 3, 2006
“For me, writing something down is the only road out.”
“Building Baby Brother” is one of the few stories that I have written from the first-person perspective. I tend to avoid writing in first person because I am well aware of my tendency to identify with the viewpoint character and become self-indulgent. I thought I had done better this time—really I had!
Two of the people who read the first draft of the story had similar reactions to one of the characters (although their suggestions on how to deal with it in the next draft differed greatly). What become clear to me, as I re-read and edited the story, was how much it revealed about my personal impressions about that character’s real-life counterpart. It was unsettlingly to see and recognize it on the page. Would I have noticed it to the same same degree if it were not pointed out to me? I don’t know.
I have written stories knowing full well going into them what baggage I was trying to unload (writing as various sorts of therapy), but by acknowledging that I could shape it into a reasonable narrative. It’s always amazing to me, though, what other pieces of personal luggage decide to pop their hinges when I’m not looking. These revealing peeks into the author’s psyche are frequently not intended (although unconsciously so is a whole other issue!).
Not much else to add at this point. Mostly an observation.