At some point as a writer, poem or prose, you are going to hit a nerve where the characters become so real – or the narrative ring so true – that someone who knows you, or your publisher, is going to become uncomfortable to the point that they ask: Is this biographical? Is this autobiographical? or Did this really happen?
Rather than praise the skill with which you have sculpted your story, someone close may guilt trip you to the point where you check the poem or story over and over to determine if you slipped from taking threads of reality and weaving them through your imagination to produce local flavour – or a sense of manners – into the world of scandal-fiction where all that is changed are names, and you have the urge to dress like Jackie Collins (God bless her cotton socks).
My answer is no – I do not slip in this manner. If something looks like your life, it is coincidental. I have observed local, national and personal experiences and viewed them from various angles and applied the essential ‘What if?’ to produce stories of pure fiction. I have dipped into the palette of society’s colourful foibles to evoke he visceral; but I have never knowingly reproduced anyone’s life experience.
The problem is, as your skills grow as a writer, the more real your characters become and – sooner or later – someone is going to think you are writing about them. This is something about which to celebrate, not be ashamed.