I’ve lately been pondering the question: Are any of my stories inspired by personal experience?
First things first, I’d never started a zoo or had a loved one so missing, so, from that perspective, no. At the same time, inherently I feel that my experiences of creativity are embedded within speaking to truths of my own experience. Whether this relates to things I’ve seen, other mundane experiences of everyday life, or broader topics such as mental health, I feel as an author I draw upon my own experiences quite a lot when I’m writing.
However, there are a myriad of experiences shown within the anthologies which are not my personal experiences. I acknowledge that I am white, of Anglo-Australian heritage, and have lived in Sydney my whole life. I haven’t experienced the grief and trauma of the loss of an immediate family member.
Therefore, two things are true - there is an element of authenticity which will be missing from some parts of my work, and that I endeavour to, through research, make the stories I tell as authentic as possible. While I’m writing, I listen to podcasts interviewing people with lived experiences of the topics I’m writing about.
Doing research doesn’t make me some hero - it’s an inherent part of being a writer. This is particularly true when you’re writing about something which isn’t your personal experience, or the circumstances of the story mean that how the event or experience is depicted would differ from what you can recount based off your own knowledge.
As well as inspiration, I’ve also been thinking about the relationship storylines within both From the Wild and Shadow - I won’t spoil them, but there have been some juicy happenings in the most recent chapters! I love romantic plotlines, although I’m inspired to explore relationships beyond these, as well.
I wanted to finish off with this quote by the Japanese storyteller and animator, Hayao Miyazaki:
“I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live - if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.”
I love the sentiments expressed within this quote. Exploring the fullness of love and human relationships beyond the patriarchal, heteronormative, romonormative paradigms within the cultures I am most familiar with has been a key attribute of this current season of my life, and something I hope to reflect more and more in my writing.