“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
— G.K. Chesterton
Yes to the first part. A resounding no to the second.
All writing tells a great deal about the writer. Period. End of story. That’s just the way it is.
When I first started writing horror, I worried about this. If a friend reads something truly twisted, will they look at me and wonder if I’m secretly wanting to do those things? I mean, what kind of sick mind dreams up this shit? For fun?!
The good news is what you reveal about yourself isn’t so straightforward. If you write about a killer, or a cheater, or someone who delights in lying to everyone they meet, it doesn’t mean you want to kill, cheat or lie, yourself.
To you, what your fiction reveals about you will sometimes be plain as day. You’ll see your own issues, insecurities and secret fears splayed out on the page. But these details will be mixed with so many other story elements that unless you name your protagonist after yourself–seriously, don’t do that–even those who know you well may not be able to filter fact from fiction.
In that sense, you’re hidden. You know, in plain site.
Just don’t delude yourself into thinking your stories don’t say something about you. They absolutely do. And never roll into the editing process with the goal of somehow exercising yourself from the story.
That doesn’t work.
Instead, make peace with the fact that your fiction tells a story, not just about your characters, but about you. Get as comfortable as you can with that reality and run with it.
The best fiction happens at the intersection of your personal identity and your imagination.