“We’re all just working on our own stuff.” This comment from a wise women’s fiction writer has got me thinking. Lately, I’ve noticed some surprising threads in my own fiction writing: a fixation on fabulous outfits and well-deserved comeuppance. (Isn’t that a great word?)
I’m currently resting in the pause between fiction projects. My latest completed-for-now manuscript, a cozy mystery, is in the hands of beta readers, and I’m about to jump back into a romance novel that’s been marinating for a few months. In between, I revised three short stories that had been cooling on the corner of my desk for a good six months—all of them Twilight Zone-esque tales of psychological suspense.
Three different genres, but all highlight costume and karma. In fact, two of my creepy short stories feature clothing with magical properties. My female protagonists use clothing to express their inner sparkle, their complex, artistic souls.
Several male critique partners have pointed out how often I focus on what my characters are wearing. (Women readers don’t seem to mind.) And what do I wear as I write these stories? Mostly exercise gear, stuff I’d never wear outside my home unless on my way to the gym. It’s comfortable, but not creative or glamorous. Hmm—do you suppose my protagonists are trying to tell me something?
My upbringing urged me to be modest, obedient, not to call attention to myself. I thought I was done with that nonsense, having accepted my inner applause junkie long ago. But my protagonists are pointing out a bit of self-sabotage I’d do well to notice.
And while in real life I endeavor to have faith in karma and tamp down my tendency to be judgmental, in my fiction someone nasty always gets what’s coming to him or her. If I do my job well, that comeuppance arrives in unexpected ways, but arrive it does. In real life, I’m a powerless observer; on the page, I’m an avenging fury.
I’ll bet it would take years of therapy to gain this kind of insight. Okay, writing fiction is just as time-consuming, but it’s cheaper! What have you learned about yourself from your fictional creations?