I know you try hard to understand, to be supportive. And I appreciate it beyond belief. A writer can't survive without someone cheering her on from the sidelines. But we need to talk about a little matter that needs clearing up.
You see, there's this thing called first person. It's when a writer uses words like "I," "mine," and "me." "I hate cats" is a first person sentence. Yet, while I wrote that sentence using the word "I," I didn't mean me. I actually love cats.
Fiction writers do this all the time. They use "I," but they're not talking about themselves. The "I" refers to their point-of-view character and what that character thinks and says and does.
I used to think everyone knew this, writers and non-writers alike. And some of you probably do. Experience has taught me, however, that some people take "I" literally.
For instance, when I went to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute in 2012, my class performed a poetry reading. Afterward, my mom brought up one of my classmate's poems. The narrator in the girl's first person poem spoke rather harshly about her mother. My mom said she was glad my classmate wasn't her daughter. That the poem would have made her cry. When I tried to tell her my classmate wasn't talking about her own mother, my mom said it didn't matter. It sounded like she was.
This particular misconception is one of my biggest pet peeves. It's ignorant and stems from degrading views of fiction writers. We aren't just writing "better-sounding" versions of our lives. We're writing about the human experience in all its forms.
So, in conclusion, my lovely, wonderful non-writers, remember when you're reading your friend or your family member's work that "I" doesn't mean "them." It'll help you avoid hurt feelings and arguments.
With warm regard,
A First Person Fiction Writer