Payback For Those Who Have Wronged You

July 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Rule No. 3: Write what you know. Bellow once said, “Fiction is the higher autobiography.” In other words, fiction is payback for those who have wronged you. When people read my books “My Gym Teacher Was an Abusive Bully” and “She Called Them Brussels Sprouts: A Survivor’s Tale,” they’re often surprised when I tell them they contain an autobiographical element. Therein lies the art, I say. How do you make that which is your everyday into the stuff of literature? Listen to your heart. Ask your heart, Is it true? And if it is, let it be. Once the lawyers sign off, you’re good to go.

From “How to Write,” by Colson Whitehead, in The New York Times Book Review this week. Whitehead is one of my favorite novelists (though I haven’t found the courage to try Zone One yet), and while just about all of this article is tongue-in-cheek, this part aligns most closely with my own tongue-in-cheek one-word answer that I supplied on my Fictionaut profile page for why I write: Revenge. Meaning, it is a chance to re-write the real-life encounters that never went your way.

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