Old Moon

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who Are We?

I recently had a brief conversation with a reader of these posts on the subject of one my earliest ones about one's identity as writer. In that one I was speaking of labels and whether I could qualify as a North Carolina writer. This person spoke of his youth and his very widely-traveled life, and I thought of the common supposition that if you have been, for whatever reason, confined to the same small locale most of your life, if you haven't seen a lot of places and things and people, you probably are hampered by a view as circumscribed as your geographical setting. But
think of the artists from Sophocles to Emily Dickinson, from Thoreau to Proust. If writers can effectively show us what we can't know first-hand, they're doing their job.

Once I gave a talk on fiction and quoted Rita Dove: Literature gives one a chance to enter into another's world, to understand it intimately, and not to be afraid...

It seems to me that writers must not be afraid either. To take others to new places and ideas is what writers are for! So who cares about the labels that might get pasted on us. If we can show a reader what s/he needs to widen the world, that's what proves we're really writers, and perhaps especially if we haven't seen all of it for ourselves.

No comments: