I live in my head.
It’s a scary thought, probably more terrifying than most of the tales I write, but it is an undeniable truth. As a fiction writer and a programmer, I spend a great portion of my time wrapped up in thought. I wonder how much of my real life, I miss because my mind is somewhere else. My wife Diane sometimes notices and says, “You have that look again, you're off writing in your head.” She knows me so well.
When I look back over my life, which I don’t spend a lot of time doing for the most part, there are all kinds of milestones: graduations, weddings, funerals, and all the day-to-day moments. But there is another long list of memories that never really occurred: the night Will Shepherd discovered the tombstones on the hill above his house, or the day Jay Watson found the headless corpse moments before the police arrived, or Bruce Kane’s battle with the black onyx gargoyle.
I say it is scary, because these are the memories I write down, the stories I create, and if I’m at all lucky, the memories I will leave behind. What is disturbing is that sometimes these tales seem more real than the actual moments in my life that inspire them. Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t had a mental break with reality, at least no more than most writers, but memory is a fickle thing.
I’m working on a new novel, and part of it takes place in a college much like my alma mater. I’m a little unnerved because the fiction I’m writing seems to be replacing the actual history. Sometimes later when I go back and read the manuscript, I have to think for a moment if that scene is actually the real moments or the fictionalized version.
Of course, all the supernatural elements, the murders and mayhem are fiction, but it is the settings and some of the small details of daily life that seemed to shift back and forth. The names of places etc.
Well at least most of the supernatural stuff is fiction.