Monday, August 21, 2006

In Other People's Heads

One reason, I feel, that my blog-novel isn’t working is that there can be no back and forth with a fictional character. One of the most pleasant surprises I have had in blogging is the back-and-forth. I hadn’t expected that. I notice that some blogs don’t allow or invite comments. There must be a good reason for that, but the blogger is missing something exciting. Some time ago, the Scribbling Woman mentioned that she got some unwanted comments, but continued allowing them anyway. The idea that I am part of a vast blogosphere is exciting. It is great fun for me to read the other blogs that I read regularly and am disappointed when there is a hiatus.

I belong to two writers’ groups. I have the same kind of interest in the member’s bi-weekly offerings. There is something about writing that connects me more directly than conversation does with the other people in the dialogue. We have had e-mail for a long time now – ten years? We stay more closely in touch with those with whom we exchange e-mails. In one instance, we got on a family group e-mail because everyone in the group just hits the “reply to all” button. We have met most of the people in that group, but we only know two of them well – the others we know only because we have heard our two friends talk about them. I feel as if I have been admitted to an inner circle.

I noticed when I was teaching creative writing that the members of a class would become close and would stay in touch even after the class was over. Often the class would be the first experience the writers had to share their work, heady stuff, they would tell me.

William Ernest Hocking, whose book, The Meaning of God in Human Experience, changed my way of thinking, has a wonderful section about how people know each other. He says that people express the thought that it would be wonderful if they could know another person from the inside out – share their thinking, their feelings, be inside the other’s head. We do in fact because when we think we are using the things of this world, so that sitting in a room with someone else, we know a good deal of what is going on in their head – seeing the furniture, witnessing the other people’s expressions, hearing the voices, smelling the smells. This is true also about reading someone’s thoughts, especially if we perceive these thoughts to be candid, authentic.

Over in “This Space”, the blogger quotes John Banville:

“There's a notion that we writers are interested in the world; that we like the peculiarities of people and collecting characters… Fiction gives the illusion of showing how we live - but it is a thing in itself. Great art looks and smells like the world, that's its trick. But the work of art is always about the work of art."

That’s the great thing about a work of fiction. You are getting exactly what is in the writer’s head. Yes, of course there is re-writing and editing, but essentially you are catching a glimpse of the imagination of the writer.

2 comments:

Poor Mad Peter said...

Scribio fictionis, ergo sum.

zhoen said...

I wrote to my friend when I started my wee blog. As others joined it, I strove to be clearer, to speak to them as well. I worry that some readers who have fallen away were offended by something I wrote.