At home over Thanksgiving break I made fun of my mom’s new Nicholas Sparks book one time too many and she finally snapped. Doesn’t he write about love and relationships, the same things everyone writes about? How is he different from the stuff you read, how is that better?
My answer: the writing. He’s just a horrible writer.
(Have you actually read anything of his? she countered. Yes mom, a whole page. It was all I could stand.)
This is relevant to me because I had an idea for a story that I really like but I’m holding back on because it seems so self-insert, so self-aggrandizing, so Mary-Sue. I feel embarrassed to write it because it’ll be so obvious that I’m writing about myself and who do you think you are anyway, etc. Stephenie Meyer, that’s who. And that should be avoided at all costs.
But it IS a good idea, and I DO want to write it and you know what, who cares if it’s all about me? How many beat authors write about how cool they are snorting ether and shooting up meth (I don’t know a lot about drugs) and skimming over the waking up in a puddle of what I hope is my own waste part of the experience? It’s hardly a new practice to write about a thinly-veiled self and make that person sound really awesome. The difference is in the writing. It forgives a lot of sins.