Question of the Month

Is your story autobiographical? Is it about you?
It doesn’t matter whether a story is memoir or fiction, every author has heard the question. Is it autobiographical? Whenever people ask me, I always answer, not necessarily. But everything an author writes is filtered through his/her individuality, senses, and experiences. Each decides what is important to say and what needs to be left unsaid. Every author lives in a particular time and place and his/her stories are seen through that lens.
There are critics who snidely remark that such-and-such author has only one story to tell, as if that is bad. I think every author has ultimately one story to tell, the story of him/her self. Each writer returns again and again to their own personal territory — their childhood, spirituality, and values. A writer is recognized by his/her voice but also by a personal landscape where he/she lives, and identifies him/her self.
Stories can be dreamed up entirely or composed of bits and pieces of memories of personal incidents or borrowed from friends, family members or acquaintances. Either way the choice of what events to include, personalities of the characters in the story, and what order the action takes is the author’s choice. So all of your novels and even a collection of short stories is ultimately about you! But probably not in the sense that the questioner intended. Not necessarily is a good answer.

Dixie Thomas Reale


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