Just like a story written in third person, a first person story is just that- a story. We draw on real emotions, locations, experiences just like every other writer, but the story is fiction. It is not a total projection of our lives.
As you can guess, someone made this comment to me recently when they learnt that I write in first person. It put my back right up, and what do I do when I get annoyed?… I write. Hence, this post.
My MC is being tortured in my current chapter. I have never been tortured, and hope I never shall. So, what do I do to create realism? I think of a particularly difficult situation, draw on an emotion that may best reflect my MC’s, and I go from there. If I write about a woman with an unhealthy upbringing, that is not a reflection on my own life. I had an amazing childhood, but I know others who didn’t. I can use knowledge from their experiences and my own thoughts as an outsider to add realism to the narrative.
Yes, my imagination can be vivid, wild, and raw, but that’s why I write.