After my twin sister set down my story, she said, "I keep trying to figure out which parts of the narrator are you," cheekily being sure to add, "and which are me."
The age-old adage that a writer only writes from experiences, that she writes expressly what she knows, is what time and again has caused the hesitation, the slight tremor of hand, when someone asks to read a story I've penned. I have a fear that they will instead mistake the pages I am handing them for a roadmap to my mind, and that they will rifle through the sentences trying to find touchstones of me, parts they recognize.
It is said that a beach gets its signature scent from the slow breakdown of microorganisms. Maybe, if I was a person who wrote about the romance of overlapping waves, rather than the fact that even the most beautiful things have their foundations in decay, sharing my work wouldn't be of such concern to me. But, as it stands, I have a penchant for darkness.
Or, at least, the writer in me does.
For me, the process of writing fiction is not all that different from trying to construct a ship in a bottle. Once the material of an idea—nebulous, indelible—has wormed its way into my mind and grown so expansive that mind alone can no longer contain it, I find it necessary to give the story its own space, to establish for it a body and form quite separate from my own, where even I stand stranger to its hallowed world.
Sure, as craftsman, I may know the ship inside and out before I feed it into the bottle's mouth—I may recognize the carvings in the hull shaped by my perceptions; may have chiseled at its masts with my words—but once it is set inside that bottle, it occupies a sacred space all its own, a world to which all of us, craftsman included, can be but spectators glimpsing in.