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Updated: Jan 16

I'm currently reading 'My Name is Lucy Barton', by Elizabeth Strout and a review quote from the Washington Post in the top left corner on the inside cover caught my eye when it said, "...coming close at times to the rawness of autofiction...".

I've never heard of autofiction before, but I'm intrigued. Especially after what I wrote in my previous post with wanting to experiment with writing elements of myself into my work more. I'm also glad to see that I have some examples already on my bookshelf. Outline by Rachel Cusk, How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti.

It's always nice when you find the name of a thing in your head.

Updated: Jan 16

I've always felt like I need to convey something when I'm writing.

Like a message. Something I've learnt or felt or thought that I'm wanting to share.

I've always thought that stories are the best way to share those messages but I'm wondering if that's really correct.

I often wonder, if I have something that I feel needs to be said, why not just say it? Why does it need to be gift-wrapped in a story?

For instance. I sometimes feel that I spend too much time wishing my life was different. There, I've said it now.

Do we need anything extra?

I've been thinking about experimenting with a different form of writing. Something a little closer to life - a little more autobiographical.

Not a memoir. People who aren't famous and say they're writing their memoirs make me heave slightly. Definitely not a memoir.

But I'm wondering if there is a form of writing where I could present a character who is essentially me in a disguise and then push him through various stories.

If the old idiom is to write what you know, then surely I, as the best authority on myself, should be able to write myself quite well.

A story I'm working on now has a central character who is very close to me. I wonder how different it would be if I took that extra step and just made him me (in disguise as a protagonist).

Or is this all just really arrogant and conceited? Am I overthinking this a tad - most likely.

In short - I think I should try writing with a character that is essentially me, and pushing them through experiences I think about from my own life to see if the things I want to say can be said in a clearer way than trying to communicate the same thing implicitly through a story.


Updated: Jan 16

I just started reading this short story collection by Roddy Doyle (the first of his that I've read) and the first story has done something interesting which I immediately thought "I should note that down somewhere". Here seems as good a place as any. If this is my writer's diary then recording little tricks I find other writers doing is probably a good thing to put in it.

So, Box Sets. There's something interesting going on with the narrative point of view in this opening story. It's in 3rd person and has a certain distance from the two main characters, Sam and Emer.

What caught my attention were instances of a scene being described and then later edited. One scene ends with "He [Sam] threw the mug." It's only a couple of scenes later that this moment is revisited and padded out with further details. We learn that Emer had said "I'm leaving" before Sam "[throws] the mug at the wall, above the cooker."

It's an interesting technique. The lack of detail around the first time we encounter this moment allows the story to progress. The subsequent actions of Sam that we see in the next scene seem like a massive overreaction. A cyclist rides into him and Sam throws the bike into the sea... but then we shift back and find out Emer has told him she's leaving just before this happens. New context comes in to partly justify his mood at the time of the incident we've just witnessed.

I like this technique. It feels like a kind of acceptable cheating. To partially withhold information, but sort of reveal it through the actions that follow on from it, and then fill in the blanks.

Nice one Roddy Doyle. I shall read on.

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