…or at least don’t read writers you know. You may be happier that way.

My wife doesn’t read my fiction. The reason why was touched upon in one of the panels I was on at ConText. We were discussing how we incorporate real life into our writing. My position was that everything around me was up for grabs. In particular, I draw on my story and the things that connect to my story. You engaging me, your story bumping up against mine, all stories period … all up for grabs for me to draw on.

When folks ask “where do you get your ideas from?” I don’t want to have to respond, I wait for folks to do or say something interesting, but you rarely do. But it can be a little disconcerting to see bits of a personal argument in print or see a friends’ history informing a character. But it’s what we do. Lord help you if you are friends with a writer/pastor: your story could end up doing double duty in print and a sermon.

It’s a fine line to walk, protecting privacy and being true to the demands of the story. Can we go too far? Um, yeah. Show of hands: how many of us have spent the night on the couch after our spouse came across something we’ve shared or written? It’s so bad, the official term in the Broaddus household for retracting/editing a statement or story is the “corrective memo”. My wife does read my blog. I’ve gotten more than a few corrective memos (she was ESPECIALLY not pleased with the original versions of me detailing—emphasis on details—the birth of our first son (in two parts, no less).

This blog is dedicated to the person who wrote me saying “you don’t have to use this e-mail as a blog or story. We’re just having a conversation.” Yes we were. At least I’m not using your name. When all is said and done, we do ultimately respect people’s privacy (if only for fear of a libel suit). Truth be told, only you will know when your story’s been co-opted, unless you or the author run your mouths about it. Ironically, most of the time my friends don’t even recognize themselves in my stories unless I point them out. That’s the point.

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