When I started writing my novel, I saw it as a story about Buddy, a character similar to myself, sharing some of my experiences but having some that I’d never experienced. I knew that writing the bits I hadn’t lived myself would be interesting challenges and I figured I’d learn something in the process.
I’ve been visualizing the character’s growth from a young boy, then a tomboy, up through butch dyke-hood and beyond, imagining all the associated awkward and painful moments along the way, using myself and my own life as a starting point. And for the moments in Buddy’s life that I hadn’t lived, I sketched out barebones and figured I’d write the details later, when I figured them out.
And then I hit that point where the novel became secondary to the general effort of saving my life through therapy and the grace and love of my family and friends. And the result, beside me not being dead or locked away, is that I’ve dug into my own darkness, into my patterns and fears, into the roots of those fears and patterns and I realize that I know a lot more about how to write Buddy’s story now. And I know a lot more about what I want to write into the story of my life.
Does life imitate art, or does art inspire life? A bit of both, I think. The questions I was pondering on Buddy’s behalf were really the questions I’ve needed to ask myself for a long time. I’ve still got plenty of work to do before I have those answers, and I’ll probably find more questions along the way (seems that’s how this works), but by the time I have this novel in my hands, I’ll know a lot more about Buddy and myself. And that means, no matter what kind of success or failure this novel becomes, it will have been a good thing to do.
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