the shape's the thing

In the 1999 article, Virtual Reality: The Perils of Seeking a Novelist's Facts in Her Fiction, Sue Miller -- one of my favorite authors -- discusses her perpetual annoyance with those who ask to what degree her novels are autobiographical. It's bothersome, she believes, because it is "a kind of potential diminishment" of her work, and implies that it is "possibly no more than the stringing together of episodes lifted directly from my life, or from the lives of fascinating characters I have known."

Then, she has this to say:

For the true writer, though, however close the events may be to his life, there is some distance, some remove, that allows for the shaping of the work. The shaping, after all, is what it's all about. Every reader can sense the difference between a writer who embodies meaning through the events he describes and the writer who seems simply mired in those events. It is that struggle for meaning that lets the writer escape the tyranny of what really happened and begin to dream his fictional dream.
I really, really like the disparity between the two types of writers.
To read the full article, one in a series of writers on writing, follow this link to The New York Times on the web.


staceyjwarner said…
fascinating, i love this...thanks for sharing.

much love

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