Write From Your Own Life Experiences

It wasn’t always this way … I stared out trying to escape my life when all of sudden it hit me. Why not sit and write about it? Which was indeed the hardest thing I ever decided to do? You see, I never chose to be a writer; the writing came to me at a very young age, as a form of therapy at a dire time in my life. Unlike so many others who run from their pain, I embraced it and began this thing called writing. 

       


Guest column by Suzanne Corso, author of
Brooklyn Story, a young woman’s coming of age
tale (Simon & Schuster, Dec. 2010). Suzanne is
also a screenwriter, stage play and documentary
producer. One such documentary, “Hear Them Roar,”
narrated by Lorraine Bracco, inspired her children’s
book Sammy & Sue™ Go Green Too! (Beaufort
Books, 2009), an environmentally educational
book of a mother/daughter explorer team,
geared for 5 yrs and older.
See her website here.
Comment on this post within 1 week, and a
random winner will win a copy of Brooklyn Story.

 

THE THRILL OF DIVING IN

I dove in head first, not knowing at all what I was doing, and I was able not only to release my anger, sadness, frustration and every emotion under the sun, but I was also able to realize what I love to do more than anything in the worldand that was to write. Who cared about what people would say if my grammar or structure was off? All I cared about was my story and what was on the page, and how I expressed it so that you could actual visualize it, feel it and want to read more.

THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING MY LIFE STORY INTO A NOVEL

So, here was my life journey laid out in front of me, and my biggest task was figuring out: How do I manage to change it all into fiction? It is sometimes harder that you think. We find ourselves being immersed in our own heads and hearts, and then as the words are put onto the page, we reread them and realize it is hard to see the difference. Then you have to go back and change it all. Lying to yourself for living your own life.

Within the pages of my novel Brooklyn Story, much of it is what I went through and everything that I know about Brooklyn and where I grew up. Changing the names and places were the easy parts; getting it out of my head is where it turns a bit difficult. And keeping it a fictional read even though it is somewhat like a reality-based memoir (minus the real names and real to life events).

THE SUCCESS OF WRITING SCENES OUT OF ORDER

I began with the ending then worked and flashbacked through it. I also like happy endings. So finishing the final scenes first it made it a hell of a lot easier to write the hard stuff because I knew once I got to the end it would be fine. I would be fine and my character … well she would be fine, too. Then I got to the beginning of the novel, and thought it should begin like this: “Some people lived in the real world and others lived in Brooklyn. My name is Samantha Bonti and of course I was one of the chosen. At age fifteen, I was seduced into a life that shattered my innocence, a life that tore at my convictions and my very soul, a life that brought me four years later to the sunlit steps of the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn.” I want readers to want to know what happens next.

Well, what did happen was this: Twenty-one years after that event in my life, someone would buy my story. And it was by far one of the happiest days for me. I took my contracts, ran to church, sat and prayed. I was humbled and honored and in awe all at the same time. I finally took my rightful place in the world as the writer God chose me to be. That is why our dream and our vision and what we say can and does come true. It is yours for the asking. No matter how you write your book, fiction or nonfiction.

THE OPPORTUNITY OF CREATE FROM YOUR LIFE JOURNEY

If I can leave you with anything, I choose to leave you in thought of this. Love your past, no doubt it has made you who are, so tell us and write about. Live your life and enjoy, but really enjoy and write about it. Create your future the way you want it, hold the vision, the universe will respond and write about it within your pages. Write about what you know. Then make it all seem like it is fiction. See how you do, I think I did just great!

Editor’s note: Suzanne is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Random number was 6, and Sophia won.)

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41 thoughts on “Write From Your Own Life Experiences

  1. Mindy

    Thanks for sharing your insight! I’m working on a memoir, but as I write, I’m finding various memoirs are going into a middle grade novel! I’m going to recommend your book for my Women’s Book Group.

  2. Looking4 Purpose

    I wrote my life story as well, three books actually which never sold one copy, but as I look at it now, it doesn’t matter whether it made any money but I did it! I was very hurt by a relationship and two years ago started writing a journal which turned out to be a book, so I wrote and wrote until I had to finish the second edition. You can visit my site and check the previews if you would like. It is nice to know I am not the only one in the world who has written their life story, word for word and shared it with the world.

  3. Rae

    Finding inspiration is not always easy in this crazy, fast-paced world but Suzanne certainly offers it up with her book. I admire the courage of writers who especially choose to go to the dark places no one else talks about. Kudos~

  4. John L. Gibson

    We all enter into this world, not by chance but in response to a calling. We are not all called to become great writers, however, we are all called to live exemplary lives. Once we have completed that task, we should put the remains of our lives on paper as written instructions, encouragement and evidence for some lost soul who needs to find his or her way back to their own path. We are all like shattered pieces of glass, reflecting self images of eachother. We all have so much to teach to one another. A good conversation can reach a chosen audience, but the writtten word can find its way to foreign lands at unknown times.

  5. Ghia

    This article is just what I needed to boost my day. I was hard hit with an emotional turmoil the past months but I overcame it through the grace of God. I wasn’t able to post interesting articles to my blog during that time because I decided to write privately to my personal journal. Yes, "to". My journal is a person to whom I send emails to. I wish that I could share it with the world so that anyone who is going through what I have gone through could find solace in it. But my fear of becoming vulnerable always stop me in my tracks. Suzanne’s courage to share her life story, albeit integrated fictionally, moved me to conquer my fears. So let’s see if tonight another life’s story could be transformed into words.

  6. Carole Johnson

    Loved the article on Suzanne Corso. She has inspired me. I have had a children’s book published but wanted to move into other genres. This has given me encouragement. God bless and thank you!

  7. Lisa Marie

    Thanks for the great information. I am working on a memoir. The subject matter is very painful and at times I just have to walk away and take a break. I am looking forward to reading your book. I never thought about making the story fiction, my goal has always been narrative non-fiction. I am looking forward to seeing how you made that work. :)Happy New Year!

  8. Valerie Norris

    I don’t write about my own life, much. Too boring/normal of a childhood! I’ve been in the habit of daydreaming forever, and that’s what spurs my writing. "What if I lived in that house?" "What if I had married the wrong man?" and off I go. But I LOVE reading memoir, and can’t wait to read your book.

  9. Benoit Lelievre

    I’m actually pretty curious to read your book. Memoirs of everyday people is a genre that is getting tough love and your column here make it sound like it wasn’t all that hard to get published. Good work at making me curious.

    Also, I’m fascinated with New York, so I guess I could learn a thing or two about Brooklyn.

    Oh and may I add your cover art looks like a million bucks?

  10. S.M. Stevens

    Thanks for summing up my own experience and I’m sure that of many others (except for the getting published part – still working on that!). Writing about my experiences was catharctic. At the same time, on my own and with the subsequent help of Pen To Press, I realized changes were needed to make my own story better fiction. Taking a manuscript to the next, removed level is actually very freeing!

  11. Hal Friesen

    Hi Suzanne,
    Great to see that the therapy of writing bore fruit for you — I find it fascinating that you started from the end in order to have the mental assurance/reminder that things would be all right after everything’s said and done. My favourite part of writing is when it all comes to life, but I guess that’s slightly different from your writing style. My experiences have crept into my writing, though, more than I’d care to admit :). It was great to read about the wonderful effects of writing and your success. Happy writing!

  12. Brenda Kissko

    Suzanne,
    I am so glad I read your post. I really relate to you! I am working on my first novel now, begging to be written. I can not help but to weave so much of my own life’s tragedies, deep thoughts, embarrassments, and comedic moments into the novel. But it is very scary putting that much of your soul out for someone to read. And where do you draw the line between fact and fiction as you get carried away in your emotions? It is awesome that the first thing you did once you had the contract in your hand was to go to the church and pray. And I love it that you said “I finally took my rightful place in the world as the writer God chose me to be.” Amen! I look forward to reading Brooklyn Story—it sounds like a book of authentic valor and self redemption—one written from the heart. Congratulations!

  13. Janine Laughlan

    Suzanne I will definitely read your work. I’d like to write an interesting account of my life. Your book would be a great encouragement to me.

  14. Michelle

    Your post really intrigues me. I teach middle school language arts and we talk about writers and how they begin their craft. I am fascinated how people transform their lives into fiction, and how they make me want to read about it. Your book sounds fascinating, I love your opening. I look forward to reading it.

  15. Kristine

    You know, it’s sort of funny. Just the other day a couple friends of mine said I need to write about my life. That I have such ridiculous and sad things happening for the last few years, and that I make it all sound amusing. And now I see this. It’s like a sign. I’d like to read your book, see how it’s done, how well you put it all together. Sounds very intriguing!

  16. Kristan

    "Who cared about what people would say if my grammar or structure was off? All I cared about was my story and what was on the page, and how I expressed it so that you could actual visualize it, feel it and want to read more."

    Exactly! Perfectly put. And ditto what Joyce and Narda said. 🙂

  17. Joyce Lansky

    I think sometimes it’s harder to write about what’s personal to you than about a fictional character. Problems with fictional characters never actually happened, so there are no hard feelings.

  18. Care Morency

    I am always curious about how places play into the stories of our lives, and would love to see Brooklyn through your eyes (and your characters’ eyes).

  19. Jenny Torres Sanchez

    Brooklyn Story sounds fantastic! Love your advice about taking your life experiences and using them in your writing. I think for writers, every experience both good and bad (and maybe, especially bad) influence what we write.
    Anyway, thanks for the post and hope to read Brooklyn Story very soon!

  20. Nadine Lopez

    I am 58 years old. I won a prize for reading the most library books at the age of 9. Never thought to write. At 40 I looked at the wreckage of emotional garbage and decided to go beneath the surface and find the monster. Took me 10 years of personal journaling the fear, the hatred, the loss. I cried buckets, snorted carpet hairs in grief and leaned into the pain. I found a tapestry of golden threads. I embrace my past, I love the woman in the mirror. I love the child in me. It was HARD HARD HARD!
    149 stories later, I cannot imagine being without a pen or pencil in hand. I am not a writer just a woman putting her thoughts down.

    I love reading stories of others who have taken the brokenness of their lives and found the beauty. I’d LOVE to have your book. Takes courage to put it out there. Validation is GOOD!

  21. Katie

    I have attempted a life story with my sister, but we’re not sure where it ends. A life story just does not have a traditional plot. Any advice would be welcome.

  22. Jennifer Newell

    I, too, have had to learn to embrace my past in order to begin writing about them and move forward. And in doing so, I’ve been able to forgive myself and others, which is a very healing process. Though I will always be haunted by much of my past, writing about it is the most therapeutic process by which to deal with it.

    Thanks for sharing your process here and your story in the book. I look forward to reading it and being inspired by it. And congratulations!

  23. Layla Fiske

    What an inspiring post! I’ve been trying to do this…write about my unique, extraordinarily, ordinary, awful life and make it sound like interesting fiction with a happy ending. Not an easy thing to do. I like your advice about writing the ending first and knowing that everything turns out well. (sigh) Maybe I’ll give it another try. All the best to you.

  24. Brandon LaChance

    I started writing songs, rhymes, cartoons and short stories when I was 8. I began writing for the same reason as you; my life was full of situations and individuals to make me go insane. It was relaxing because I could write anything I wanted to without worrying about what someone thought of me and my opinion. If I wanted to share, I could, but it was an option, not a must.

    As I got older an athletic career seemed to be my future, but a car accident shattered my ankle. Two plates, a rod and eight screws in my right ankle brought writing to the top of my priority list, which I’m very thankful for.

    I’m excited to see how someone, who fell upon the gift of writing in a similar way as I did, makes a life seem interesting and important enough to know about in a world full of people who all have a story to tell.

  25. J

    Wow, this novel sounds compelling.
    I have thought about this. But it is almost too painful to face – yet, it seems that it would be the most natural kind of writing for me.
    The difficulty would be twisting it around. Having all the gritty stuff -I think it would be far too depressing for me, and my goal is be more positive and gracious in life. Looking at those "other" things I fear would drag me back down to things I don’t want to recall.
    That said, I’m one of the "dreamers" in this writing thing. I do hope that I can get my confidence and creativity back some day, so that I can actually feel passion for an idea and let go of my fears.

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