Writer’s Desk: Tell the Truth Shamelessly

Often literary fiction is viewed as needing to be disconnected to some degree from what is happening in the world. Timelessness can be preferred to immediacy.

For her part, Lydia Millet (A Children’s Bible) strives to write fiction that wrestles with everything happening around us. In The Atlantic, she described the challenge of doing that without being obnoxious (“nothing breaks the spell like an explicit preaching session”).

Using The Lorax as a sublime example of making a genuine story that means something, she explains how the challenge calls for extreme candor:

My feeling is that the struggle to write well is also the struggle to write honestly, even when they seem to be at loggerheads. And that candor—elusive and sometimes rudely naked—shouldn’t be just the easy honesty of me but a more ambitious honesty of us. Not the sole purview of children’s books, but the purview of any book at all.

In the end, I think a bit of shamelessness is called for…

So if you have something to say in your fiction, say it.

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