Noodles got a divorce about four years prior to when he joined the writer's group. He was literally thrown out of the house with only a few boxes of things and his car. So, he decided to take a road trip, and during that road trip, he went on a personal journey of learning how to date again.
So, if you asked Noodles what his book was about, he'd say that it was about how his wife had wronged him, and how he had to learn to be romantic and charm women again at an older age.
But, if you asked anyone else in the group what the book was about, we'd say it was about a man who neglected his wife, and how, after she left him, he travelled around the country treating other women as objects.
Why was there a discrepancy? Well, that was because Noodles believed that he could hide himself in his writing and depict a more likable man than he was. And, in moments, his main character was likable and charming. But, sometimes when Noodles didn't intend it, his true view of the world peeked through, and that's because, try as we might, very few of us can keep ourselves out of our stories.
Unfortunately, this means that, writing is even harder than we thought. Not only do we have to figure out how to create compelling plots and characters, not only do we have to learn all the rules and then understand how to break them, not only do we have to sacrifice our time--we also have to delve deeply into ourselves and confront our demons. We have to know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our biases, our flaws, so that we really know what we are putting on the page.
When you read, can't you tell when a writer is confident or scared or angry? Can't you tell when a writer has done her or his research on the topic, or when a writer is holding back or being completely honest? Even if we don't consciously attempt to write about ourselves, we reveal ourselves in our writing, no matter what kind of writing we do.
For me, that's one of the scariest things about writing, and one of the most beautiful parts of it. I love feeling connected, not only to the book, but also to the writer. I also believe this is why I tend to admire most every writer I've ever met. If they are even a little serious about what they do, chances are they have had to look inside themselves and understand themselves, which tends to make them more pleasant to be around.
This is just another reason why we should be proud of ourselves as writers. Often, it's more than just technique, emotion, and creativity. Writing is also a journey within ourselves, an internal cleansing that is necessary if we want to have any sort of control over these awkward things we call words.
So, if you are so inclined, take a moment and think about the character you play in your story. Can you see this character clearly? Can you see this character the ways other will?