The act of writing is deeply personal. The words flow from the writer’s head, placed on paper or typed on a screen, only to be held close to the writer’s heart for fear of societal judgment of their most personal thoughts. If a reader studies the works of an author, they can see into the writer’s soul, exposing good and bad. And typically, writers don’t want to be judged; they wish to create or share, to teach others or heal themselves.
The author of A Million Little Pieces wrote about his personal experiences in a riveting book, only to be crucified when it was discovered that some of the stories were expanded beyond his experiences into a fictional realm. So a writer must take care to hold themselves close in their writing. Don’t expose much, don’t expand the stories to seem likable, don’t reveal the multifaceted factors of a person’s character that cause the person to go from a likable character to a relatable character. People are drawn to Melanie Hamilton and appalled with Scarlett O’Hara because identifying with Scarlett forces the reader to identify characteristics of their own that are unlikable.
In writing about personal experiences, a writer will water down the relatable characteristics to seem more likable, to escape persecution of their wrong doings. But what if an autobiographical author told the truth? Could a reader grow to like the unlikable character and accept that everyone, including themselves, is completely flawed? Or will they close the book and judge the writer as they ready themselves to commit their own flawed acts?