Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Writing Well Is the Best Revenge

Dorothy Allison at the Maui Writers’ Conference, as reported by Pat Holt:

"I tell each of these writers, 'I believe in the power of storytelling to give you a shape to your own life that you can stand. I believe in what it means to have no loved version of your life but the one you make. And I believe in writing that allows you to become the hero — not just survivor — of your own experience.'

"Working with young writers who have never had a childhood or adolescence, sometimes I tell them, 'The thing you need to do is write it, then step outside of it and look back at it.'

"This is part of the nuts/bolts section of a writers conference. I believe in writing for revenge and the hope of justice — hell, justice is simply revenge cleaned up.”
. . . .
"Before I'm done I'm going to make them write this same story in the voice of the person who hurt them most. I'm going to make them look out of the eyes of evil. Why? My mama nature would never allow me to do this to a grown woman or man or child or dog. But I'll do it to someone who wants to be a writer. Because I know no other way to get far enough out of the story — your real, lived experience — and make it over."
. . . .
Part of why we love books is when we read something that makes us weep and sing. When we are completely devastated but still convinced of the power and joy of life.

"The very best stories — the very best translations of the real — touch that place where we can barely stand it. But when we do stand it, we are taken to a new place, and I as a reader want always to be taken to that new place."

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