The Times - August 23, 2006

Tonight I realized something about writers, or something I suspect about writers, and why I'd probably never be a good one. And I should say, I'm talking about fiction writers.

I think that to write good fiction, one needs to be able to look at one's own life as if it were a piece of fiction itself. It just seems that to be able to both keep one's finger on the pulse of character and emotion that is the life blood of good fiction, one needs to be in touch with the machinations of one's own heart and soul. I believe there is also an old saying which says that a surgeon should never operate on a relative. For that same reason, a good writer needs to be in touch with such things, yet not be subsumed by them. The only way to do this is to look at one's own life as a piece of fiction.

I don't think I could do that. At least not without becoming a drunk or a drug addict. I think some successful writers have tried that.


I think that's somewhat true of artists in general, to be able to comment on humanity one must dive in and lose oneself in it all. Musicians, writers, artists... they journey where we fear to go and sometimes don't return.

Posted by: Jeremy on August 23, 2006 10:37 PM

Hitting me where I live! Well, they say to write what you know. So, writers have to know something. Maybe that's it: one's own heart and soul. Or perhaps it's just . . . heart and soul. Not anyone's in particular, just common human reactions and feelings. Knowing one's own might lead to knowing others', or it might get in the way. I do agree that fiction sure can seem like life after awhile.

Love the blue.

Posted by: Hugh on August 24, 2006 12:27 AM

Okay. So with a genuine writer at hand, the question: Does life ever seem like fiction?

Posted by: Tom on August 24, 2006 08:19 PM