Standing With Dragons

In my interview with Andre Dubus, the author of The House of Sand and Fog and Townie described writing as truth telling. This seems absolutely so to me, and I believe this applies to every writer, whether she is writing romance fiction, mysteries, poetry, or memoir. The Truth, after all, is too immense to be contained in one story or one genre. In this way, everyone is doing his or her own small part to shed the light of perception on life. And this, by the way, is all we can do. Imagine you live with someone who believes there is a dragon sitting in the basement. Your roommate spends every day in a panic that the dragon will decide to lumber up the basement stairs and devour both of you. You often come home to find boards nailed across the basement door; he has begun assembling a suit of armor in the garage; he frequently begs you to move out of the house.

What are you to do? His behavior is insane, by which I mean inconvenient, irritating, difficult, frustrating. You could try to train him to behave like someone who isn’t insane. Train him not to nail boards over the basement door or build suits of armor. Or you could restrain him so he can’t build suits of armor. Or you could medicate him so he does not see the dragon as long as the medication fills his veins.

Or you could help him see that there is no dragon. This is tricky, I know. How do you help someone see through an illusion? The best way, perhaps, would be to lead your friend into the basement and you yourself stand with the dragon. As writers, we guide our readers into danger, down into the basement where all the dragons roar, and stand together with these beasts so that within this dream of a story a friend might awaken from his nightmare.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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