Late-adolescent identity in London and Dublin: The Tyranny of Lost Things & Conversations with Friends
If adolescence was the invention of the baby boomers, it’s the millennials who’ve shown – along with recent(ish) research into the developing brain – that this interlude between childhood and adulthood lingers well into one’s twenties. At this stage of our lives, many of us are still experimenting with who and how to be, as these two debut novels illustrate in thoughtful and entertaining ways. The young female narrators juggle the legacy of patchy parenting; love triangles; envy and class privilege; and platonic and sexual relationships at the boundary between intimacy and privacy – and city living, one in London and the other in Dublin. Read on!
I’m not someone who goes out armed with a notebook and pencil, ready to snatch snippets of dialogue from an innocent public. It’s not so much, that like Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, I’ve had people challenge the real-life stuff as unbelievable, or that I’d draw the line at stealing for the sake of my art.
It’s not even that, with repetitive strain injury, I’m one of those writers who (physically) doesn’t write if she can help it. It’s more that, as my head’s already crammed with other people’s stories, I tend not to go searching for more. But sometimes a story is offered to me on a plate (if you read the story, you’ll see how apt is the cliché), and I feel I’ve no choice but to take it, which is exactly what’s happened with Peace-and-Quiet Pancake, just published on the website Flash Fiction Online.
I'm always pleased when my work finds a good home, but this feels extra special because I’m actually being paid for it (very rare for short stories on the web). Now, this post is about ethics, but I'm not asking you to advise me on whether to declare this small amount of income on my tax return. (I'm not at all ambivalent about paying tax, just what it's spent on.) My discomfort relates to whether the story is genuinely mine to sell.
Don't get me wrong. I wrote the words and assembled them in the right order. I devised the plot and structure, such as it is. But the content, the central event isn't entirely fictional and, what's more, while I was present as it happened, it didn't happen to me. So in a sense, it's the little girl's story not mine.
Do other writers worry about things like this?
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of two novels.
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