In response to a question someone asked me (not in the combox) about last week’s flash fiction…
No, my Patient Husband does not ignore me. No, I was not trying to send him a message with that story.
First, if somehow we were in that situation, I’d expect the conversation to go more like this:
Patient Husband: Are you getting wet? Turn the umbrella around.
Me: It’s water. I have it on good authority that my hair will dry off again.
Him: That’s ridiculous. You shouldn’t get wet to protect my phone.
Me: Yeah, because a $400 iPhone is so forgiving when it gets soaked.
Him: I don’t need to be talking on the phone.
Me: Let’s just remember which idiot forgot to pick up a new umbrella when she was at Target yesterday.
But secondly, on a more serious note, I wouldn’t use fiction to “send a message” to the people I love, nor do I lift fiction right out of my everyday life. Or rather, I don’t lift the heart, theme, or (heaven help me) “message” out of my life.
As it turns out, on the day I needed to write a flash fiction, it was raining. My umbrella does have a tiny hole near the center post (and Cricket, why don’t I replace it? Because I never remember when I’m at a place that sells umbrellas, kind of like the Arkansas Traveler). At the same time, one of the moms at the bus stop was showing her daughter how to open and close her umbrella. I combined both elements with the kernel of a story I’d been gelling in my head, wrote for an hour, and there you have it.
A long time ago I read a SF author who said that “write what you know” is an oversimplification, as he (or she) had never been to Mars but felt free to write about it. Tolkien had never been to Middle Earth; Nancy Kress never lived for years without sleeping. But an author who’s never piloted a rocketship still knows how it feels to fear, to anticipate.
Similarly, I’ve never been a guardian angel, and I’ve never been destroyed by Satan, and I’ve never driven over a land mine. But I’ve dealt with frustrating people; I’ve had people attempt to undercut my creativity; I’ve experienced renewal after life-changing tragedy.
I’m not unique; every author is mining her emotions to create characters. With me in particular, there will be points of contact but not identity. Never fear; all is well.