I think, when people ask this, what they want to know is if I have experienced any or all of the situations I write about. If this is what they are asking, then the answer is usually, ‘no!’ I imagine the scenarios I put my characters through. They are in the stories I tell myself as I fall asleep at night, so I think about them quite minutely before letting one turn up in a novel or short story.
If I confined my writing to experiences I’ve had, then I’m pretty sure no one would want to read it. I don’t think my autobiography is going to crop up anywhere any time soon. I’m a watcher, not a do-er. I’m a thinker, not an actor. I’m careful and safe – exciting things rarely happen, because I don’t want them to.
And, of course, the other answer to this question is: all. All of me is in my writing. I am my writing and my writing is me.
When I write, it is an all-encompassing process. I seldom think properly or deeply about anything other than my WIP. It holds little observations that I make. It holds ideas I am toying with – sometimes without knowing utterly what I believe. It holds the key to my head. It is like a diary of my thought processes. It is a chunk of me.