Memory Lane & The Not-So-Subtle-Art of Autobiographical Fiction

So my novel is a thinly disguised piece of non-fiction, set in a fictional present. I know that doesn’t necessarily make sense so let me break it down.

I want closure for myself. The love of my life left me in 2013 and I’ve since been trying to capture the story on paper. It was a fucking whirlwind romance novel all on its own. I mean he flew me to London three times. Spur of the moment! He came to me three times (coincidentally). We took a road trip up the east coast to visit my childhood home & camped in front of a waterfall. We had incredible sex, made a 30 minute sex tape, had sex in public places and oh my God the sex!

Anyway, a novelist usually produces shit their first time around and this is the romantic garbage I want to spew out my first time completing a novel. I want to have a written piece of art that represents the most exciting, loving time in my life.

As I write, I use my journals for reference. The story is of us reconnecting on a Dominican resort, shocking, considering I’ve just been to the DR. He’s there on a bachelor party vacation week and I’m there at a writer’s conference. The present is all fiction. It’s what I perceive might happen if we reunited. We’d love each other, we’d maybe even make love, but the end would be the same. We were a tragedy not a romance. There are going to be a few journal entries, receipts and email exchanges that are all non-fictional (no photos) and that’s where I get to tell my truth.

It’s so hard going through it all again. In one entry, I wrote the following (Keep in mind there’s a time difference between us; he’s in Dubai and I’m in DC. Also I’m not editing any of my entry so enjoy all of my 22 year old, like, slang):

“Sometimes I feel like maybe he’s like…the one or something. Just writing it down feels so embarrassing because obviously… But it’s so hard to believe there’s not something so special about whatever this is. Tonight he said the worst part about hanging up was that I would be going to sleep and he’d spend his day knowing he could be in bed with me, making him even lonelier. That is exactly how I feel when I’m at work and I say goodnight to him before my shift. Somehow, he seems to match every feeling I have, only he puts into words better than I ever could. I feel so much like I’m in love, I wanna say it. It isn’t right to do that, I mean, make such a huge proclamation via Skype. But he makes me so happy, I miss him so much and it’s hard to contain those feelings sometimes. I’m just scared. I’m so terrified that all of this may be genuine, but one day he’ll wake up and feel differently about me. Danielle [my friend] got to me, just a little, when I told her about him, but I believe in Basil. He says not to worry about what others think and just to focus on the time. Two more weeks and he’ll be living with me for the summer. We’ll know exactly what this is and I can stop second guessing. I need to sleep, it’s 3 am and I want the days to pass quickly.

-J. ”

It is so hard sometimes. I hate reliving my past joy because a part of me still misses him so much that if I wanted to, if I had the time, I might curl into a ball, in his Led Zeplin tee and cry. I would smoke our favorite cigarette, drink red wine and cry thinking about the way he would take off my earrings before we fell asleep at night. The way he looked at me with love and left a hand on my knee anytime we went anywhere.

I’ve reached a point in my story where I don’t know what he’d say anymore. If the story is set in our present, 5 years after our past, I don’t know what he would say as the new man he must be now. Reading the journals helps a little, but sometimes they hurt a lot.

Do any of you keep a journal? It’s a blessing and a curse, no?


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