I recently praised the witty writing on my friend’s blog and told her that she should consider submitting for print.
“Yeah, but I could never publish the things about my kids that you do about yours.”
Such candor validates her true friend status. And often as a writer, I wonder how many real friends I have left.
On the days I muster shedding my uniform drawstrings for appropriate lunch attire, I sit across from radiant women who bubble bathe and work out and wonder if they would invite me back if they knew …
… that as they lightly laugh, their words crank through a mind that twists their tragedies into plot points, conjugates their conundrums into dialogue that may or may not end up on the cutting room floor.
As writers, our worlds — our people — are our material. Do they know?
Weren’t they there in our workshops when proven scribes assured us to “write what you know?” Aren’t they privy to the fact that to invite us into their lives, they subsequently invite themselves onto our pages?
And if they know, why do they stay? To be exorcists to the alternating narcissism and self-doubt that taunt us upon deadline? To serve as tranquilizers for our relentless angst? Perhaps we are their projects.
As competent adults, it is my friends’ prerogative to remain in my world. But there are four little people with whom I cohabit, and as my progeny, are powerless– having been born into their role of my built-in and best material.
Their every charming antic is recorded on a notecard — their dialogue so fresh, their conflict so natural. And ever so perceptive, they watch me view their best performances, and knowing they can do nothing to prevent it, murmur, “Oh great, she’s going to write about us.”
Autumn McAlpin is the author of Real World 101: A Survival Guide to Life After High School and a columnist for the Orange County Register in southern California.