Thursday, April 19, 2012
Dangerous Voices of the Fiction Writer
The up-side of the shock is liberation. I hate the idea, espoused by some, including the "teacher" I once had at the Mendocino Writer's Conference, that you have to avoid writing in the voice of an oppressed minority person. The implication that as a writer, you only can feel and imagine what YOU would feel and experience based on your own life, is a straight-jacket to creativity. Write what you know, stick to that: no, I don't want to be that writer. I love reading Susan Straight, Gayle Brandeis, Madison Smartt Bell, and others who have respectfully imagined their way into someone else's life. I love the risk, the danger, but the reward in understanding from imagining that different life.
Still, the idea of putting on a new viewpoint with every new work is challenging. I hope to rise to the occasion, though, since I would like to create work out of ultimate empathy: writing as if I'm another person, out of different experiences of humanity that I can imagine.