Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are our favorite writers acknowledging truths we can't bear to acknowledge ourselves?

Haven't been up for blogging lately because I've been hard at work on writing essay and memoir pieces. And really all blogging is, at least the way I do it, is cataloguing kernels of thought that could be turned into essays. So now that I'm actually learning how to write proper essays, I haven't quite wanted to post them. They're too weak and fragile, like little seedlings that may not make it to full flower, and anyway, the eventual goal is to get them published somewhere else. But I don't know, maybe I'll start putting the ones I'm abandoning up here. We'll see.

In the meantime, I came across this excellent essay by Alexander Chee on writing about sex, which turns into a great essay about writing in general, and why we love the writers we love.

I loved this.

"It seems to me that the writers we love most are those who manage to capture something we ourselves have thought and rejected, for being forbidden, dangerous, elusive, something that if we made room for it would undo something else we want to keep, so we force it away—literature as a catalogue of rejected thoughts. For the way they can hold onto what the rest of us would put away as dangerous, they become heroes, the ones who emerge with the one thing we hoped to keep secret, but know we need."

I've never thought of it that way before, but it's so true. I love that image of the great writers having the balls to go places the rest of us don't. It's surely something to aspire to.


Anonymous said...

I've long felt this way about all art...breaking down that wall few dare to cross.

Jane Donuts said...

I like that way of thinking about it. I guess the question is finding the walls that need to be broken down, but you can't know that until you've done it. Good inspiration.