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My twin daughters are fifteen today. 

Their birthdays always bring out conflicting emotions in me.  On the one hand, I'm a proud dad who loves cake, on the other, they're a painful reminder of just how far from normal the girls are.  They have a vague idea of what a birthday is, but little interest in us or the presents we bought them.

On the plus side, teenagers are supposed to ignore their parents, so at least in that regard, my girls are not too different from other kids their age.  I wouldn't trade them for the world.  Besides, both girls are happy.  They have loving parents and a big brother any dad would be proud to call his son. 

Over the years, several people have suggested I use my experience as a parent of autistic children in my writing.  I understand the idea of 'Write what you know', and for some folks I imagine it might even be cathartic in some way, but I'm a 'Glass is half-full' kind of guy and autism doesn't lend itself to the light-hearted side of writing.


How about you?

What do you 'know' that you'll never write about?

ETA: It's okay if you don't want to go into details, I'm interested in whether there's something you 'know' that you wouldn't include in your fiction.

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( 101 comments — Leave a comment )
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nathreee
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Actually I started my blog write about such things. It feels good to get things off my chest and it feels good when other people comment on it. Under the realme tag are the posts about what makes my life as a HSP so special.

Things I never write much about are family and the pharmaceutical industry. My family is just no fun and my work is not my work of choice. I'd much rather be a full-time writer, but hey this income is way better.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
I think the occasional blog post is different than using it in fiction though, don't you?
(no subject) - nathreee - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
handful_ofdust
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Cal is up there. All the Oprah Book stuff is up there, actually; it really doesn't interest me, especially so since my Dad keeps hammering on me to address it. Pain hurts, whatever--my writing is for me.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
'...my writing is for me.'

I think I'm the same. I mean, sure, I want to entertain other folks, but I figure if I don't enjoy reading it, how can I expect others to.
(no subject) - rowyn - Mar. 31st, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
ex_naomi_ja
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
I never rule anything out, except folk dancing and incest (wait, isn't that a Thomas Beecham quote?). But there are some subjects I would hesitate before approaching, because to do them justice would take a hell of a lot of work. Rape is buzz topic for me, since I've read too many books where it's used as a shortcut to elicite audience sympathy, and not dealt with realistically afterwards.

I guess any kind of -ism (racism, sexism, etc) would be difficult, but not impossible to handle.

Then there are things I'm not interested in writing about, which is a different subject altogether!
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
'...except folk dancing and incest'

Hehe, I can understand the incest, but folk dancing?
(no subject) - ex_naomi_ja - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
jakobdrud
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Congratulations to your girls (and their great dad!).

There are a few topic I won't write about because they don't make anyone happy. I don't want to infect others with my own bad mood -- but I might use my darker memories if I could make people laugh about them.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Absolutely, if you can make people laugh about them, that's a different kettle of fish altogether.
kimberleylittle
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
I have an Asperger son who is now an adult who was never properly diagnosed until he was about 14 - after 14 years of complete frustration, hair-pulling, tears, guilt, worry, you name it. I'm worn out from it all and every single day is difficult and stressful with him. So yeah, it's hard to write about. I've never even tried. The whole idea exhausts me. I write to escape my *real* life. :-)
out_totheblack
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
Exactally! There is too much real in my life. When I read or write, I want to be as far away from it as possible.
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
out_totheblack
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
A lot more than I want to mention here. Let's just say, I've seem the very dark side of life in many areas.

Congrats on the birthdays. I totally understand the bitter-sweet nature of it.

((HUGS)))
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
aprilhenry
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what I will never write about, but my heart goes out to you with your daughters. I see my sister struggle with her two, who are 15 and 8, not potty trained, not speaking (aside from some ecolalia), often violent, seizures every few days. It is a hard row. I'm glad you are a glass half-full person.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, me too :)
mary_j_59
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
What a sweet post, Jon, and happy birthday to your girls! I admire your stance here.

As to what I know that I won't write about - I don't know, really. I'd be very hesitant - and have been very hesitant - to bring up difficult or controversial topics I don't know anything about, but themes that bother or worry me do seem to find a way into my writing, and that's probably not a bad thing.

There is one thing, however, that I will never consciously do. I will never plunk a real person, practically undisguised, into my fiction. Especially not to "get revenge" on real people. I think that's quite disgusting behavior, and I am turned off by writers who claim to do it. I don't honestly know where my characters come from, but they aren't thinly disguised versions of people I know.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean, Mary. Characteristics? Foibles and mannerisms? Sure, but not specific people.

Thanks for the input :)
silverwerecat
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Many hugs, and congrats on the birthday girls.

You're a braver person than I'd ever be.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm looking forward to the cake :)
jtglover
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday to your girls. They're lucky to have a dad like you!

What won't I write about? Well, if I talked about it, I'd be writing about it, wouldn't I? :-) Seriously, there's nothing from my past that I don't consider fodder for writing, in some way, shape, or form. It might not be a 1:1 congruence, but the difficulties of my past made me who I am and will inexorably be part of what I write.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you. When I say 'write about', I'm thinking of fiction, not blog posts, but as you say, our pasts make us who we are today, so I guess we can draw from most things - though in my case, not this.

Thanks for sharing :)
wendigomountain
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
That's awesome, Jon. Thing is with the writing about autism, I wouldn't even recommend you do it in a direct manner. I say use what you know about what it feels to live with it, apply it to something else. It doesn't have to be autism at all. Hell, it could be Secondary World type stuff.

I think you stand to risk losing something about your experiences if you write them down directly. Maybe something in yourself you aren't willing to part with. If it's something that will give your writing stength, do it, but I don't think you have to do it in a way that takes over your work to tears at your soul in an unhealthy way.

It's like those Mitch "Angel of Death" Albom stories. Seriously, if I was an old person and he showed up at my door, I'd be worried he wanted to use me as source material for his next old people snuff-book. You can only go so far with that sort of "write what you know" thing.

Please feel free to delete this post if I sound like I'm jabbering on like an idiot.
asakiyume
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
I say use what you know about what it feels to live with it, apply it to something else.

--Yeah, I agree with this, too.
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wendigomountain - Mar. 31st, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
mguibord
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
Those girls are lucky in their choice of Dad ;-)
I agree about not wanting to write about things that are too close or painful. For some it might be cathartic but I write to escape. I don't want to seem the same old #$% in my story as in my life. That's no fun. :-)
Have you ever read Rules by Cynthia Lord? Its a funny, sad and sweet story about a boy with autism , told from his sister's POV. Cynthia is a lovely writer who has shared how hard it was to write from her own family's story, to open up their lives like that. But the book has touched an enormous number of kids. and won a Newbery as well.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Congrats to Cynthia Lord, she's braver than me.
(no subject) - mguibord - Mar. 31st, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
asakiyume
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday to your girls--and hugs to you, their dad.

I'll never say never about writing, but I'm not very tempted to write about personal, painful, in-progress stuff (and a lot of personal stuff is always in progress).
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

You're right, a lot of personal stuff is painful or as the man in black might say, "Life is pain, and anyone who says different, is selling something." :)
kmarkhoover
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Child abuse.

I know it very well, having experienced it. I ain't interested in writing about it at all.
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised, Mark. I wouldn't either.
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Mar. 31st, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and congrats on another great icon :)
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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