The Authorship Question

“How much of your book is autobiographical?”

It’s among the standard questions authors are asked when the topic arises, and the answer can range from being obvious to obscure – sometimes there’s a direct correlation to the writer’s own experiences, and other times it’s purely removed from any aspect of the writer’s “real” life. Then again, (unless the story in question actually is an autobiography) there would be some smidgen of the writer’s own reality within the story he/she is writing, as the idea itself came forth from his/her imagination. It would make sense that there be some truth within the fiction.

Figuring out how much (if any) is hidden in the stories is the tricky (fun?) part.

I would like to think that an author includes some aspect of their real life into their stories – whether it be a character trait the protagonist (or antagonist) possesses or an element within the narrative arc. Inspiration comes from many places, and life events can be transmogrified into a work of fiction, regardless of genre.  The people one meets and the places one visits influence your perspective and factor in how you go about in this world (whether or not there is a world beyond this world is questionable, and would make for an interesting story in and of itself).

Then there’s the issue of writing style and tone, which can be reflective of the writer or serve as a facade to further confuse readers with regards to the writer and his/her “true” identity. It becomes a question of discerning between the public and private persona – how he/she chooses to present themselves to the world may or may not be how he/she truly is. The degree to which an author is like the characters they create is variable – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and maybe not at all. That’s the fun in writing fiction – the limits to which one can stretch the imagination are endless, and (especially when writing mystery/horror stories) the (often horrible) things one can do to fictional characters is cathartic (and won’t lead to prosecution so long as they remain on the written page).

The authorship question would arise if scholars in the far distant future would attempt to ascertain the identity of a particular work of literature, should such a question arise. This would be relevant if the authorship of a work of literature is questionable  – as in the case of the works of William Shakespeare (who died 400 years ago today, and is the quasi inspiration of this entry). As a theater dork/geek/nerd, it’s fascinating that the mystery of whether or not Shakespeare wrote the plays (and/or the sonnets) endures to this day. There are loads of theories that other (perhaps not as famous) playwrights “actually” wrote the plays, from the plausible to the absurd (there isn’t enough time to go through all the theories at great length, so I won’t).

Anyway.

These days, there are intricate algorithms that can analyze a writer’s work and identify a writer in question, should there be an authorship question – there are even websites that can analyze a piece of writing and compare it to other (notable and famous) writers. So the authorship question may no longer be questionable if there is an identifiable piece of writing attributed to said writer.

Maybe.

So, how much of my writing is autobiographical?

Yes. (and that’s all I’m prepared to divulge at this time)

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