As a general rule I try to avoid autobiography in my work. Part of this is a fear of egotism and part of it is a desire to not be the kind of person who writes about himself. I’ve met a few people who wrote their protaganists as if they were themselves, and I find them unutterable chores. I am a relatively boring person who has achieved nothing, writing a story where I achieve anything seems a bit false.
I do have a surprising breadth of experience with things that it seems very few authors I know share. I know authors who have experienced panic attacks and PTSD, and seen how they represent those phenomenons in characters, and also fascinatingly how they represent them from outside the characters, which makes the experience vivid and real-seeming even to those who haven’t necessarily experienced it. Authors who have suffered types of assault I haven’t. Authors who have felt wind whipping through their hair as they fly across the sky, or the earth on their shoulders as they explore deep caves. Their experience with these things informs their creation. Most of us as writers are creating stuff that we didn’t directly experience but we’re salting the words with things we did. This is part of why I’m nervous about learning too much about formal combat styles – I find people who care a great deal about technically correct combat to be really tedious to talk to and who fail to convey what I remember of fighting, the visceral sensations, the fear, the character of pain as it breaks out in the different ways it does in the body.
I am reluctant to talk more; I do not want to sound as though I am imploring people to read my novels because they are insights into me. Honestly that’s the exact opposite of what I want. I want the baring of my soul in my work to enhance them, to make them more enjoyable, to make the work more meaningful to people and to connect with people who can recognise and appreciate the experience.
But what if you bared your soul in public, and nobody cared to look?