Thursday, March 15, 2007

From Fiction To Reality

When I created this blog, I promised myself that it wouldn't turn into an indulgent, "look how great I am", attempt at self-promotion, or worse, an unstructured rambling of any thought that comes into my head. I wanted to share my experiences and opinions, which are hopefully helpful and a bit entertaining. But this is something I can't resist sharing although I can assure you, it won't be helpful in anyway and may not be entertaining to anyone other than myself.

#1 The Fiction: In my latest book, I needed a way for my main character to live in an affluent suburb even though she's a waitress and has a five year old daughter and probably couldn't afford anything in that area. After much brainstorming, I decided to have her strike a deal with her landlord that she'd clean the common areas of the building in exchange for a reduced rent. Problem solved.
The Reality: In September I moved into my very spacious yet very affordable apartment. It was a sublet, so the lease is up at the end of April and my landlord sent me a letter regarding possible renewal. The letter informed me that my rent would be raised by about 10% if I wished to continue living here. That, I can't afford and really, I don't want to spend the money to move again. After lots of negotiating (okay, arguing) about how much my rent should be, seemingly out of nowhere, I blurted out, "What if I clean the common areas for a reduced rent?" Seriously, I surprised myself. But she agreed and I will continue to live in my very spacious yet very affordable apartment.

#2 The Fiction: Last summer I started a short story about a girl overcoming drug addiction who joins a swim team, knowing that regular exercise is an important part of recovery. But as the year continues, she finds herself getting addicted to swimming, going to the pool three times a day, getting tremors if she doesn't get enough yardage, etc. Basically, I've always said swimmers are slightly sadistic and have to be a little crazy, and thought it would make for an interesting story if I exaggerated the hell out of it.
The Reality: When I joined my masters swim team this summer, I started going two days a week. When my work schedule shifted, I was able to go three, sometimes four days. On Tuesdays, when I can't make it to practice, I swim at my gym. Then, in December, meet season started, so I started competing on Sundays every few weeks. My girlfriend thinks it's starting to get out of hand. Our team has a "mile-a-day" challenge where the goal is to swim 365 miles in 2007. To keep track, we have a spreadsheet where we input our yardage every day. Last week, I looked it over and saw that I swam every day for three weeks. No break. No rest. In April, we're going to San Francisco and while my girlfriend is looking up restaurants and things to do, I go online and search for pools. When I tell her there's a masters team that practices down the street from our hotel she gives me a look that says, "I will leave you if you go to swim practice on our vacation." I'm starting to agree that I may have a problem. My name is Dana and I'm a swim-aholic.

We always talk about putting ourselves in our characters, giving them traits that we possess. But I never knew it was possible to actually become our characters, become like the fictional people we have created. Anyone else? Am I the only one?


Darwyn said...

So, when will your character win the lottery?

Quinn said...

Just don't write a story about a character who becomes just like a character she's created only to realize that she herself is a character whose author is becoming just like her - you might create some sort of infinite loop, like this.

Ronni said...

I truly love your solution to your "rent" problem. Whoever said fiction couldn't be real?