To Become Another Person

THURS WORKSHOP FULL; SPACES AVAIL ON SATURDAY. Most writers are pretty much locked inside their own personality; they can only write about themselves and their own lives, while great fiction is all about the big wide world of other people, their depths and desperations, the universe outside the artist’s ego. Thus writing novels is very much the art of transcendence, the art of becoming another person. Writing as another person is essential to all fiction, yet many writers fail at this. For example, all too often you see novelists inflicting their own musical tastes upon their characters or they let their character, when writing a letter to their lover, describe things they did together, which they think is essential for their story but a normal person would never do, to name but two common mistakes. Writing a whole novel in the first person narrative is of course one of the biggest challenges in literature. Nabokov becoming Humbert Humbert, Hannah Kent putting herself in the shoes of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, or Shakespeare thundering at us from the mind of his various characters, are the true wonders of fiction. We’ll be doing exercises, we’ll ask participants to write short texts in the name of imaginary people, we’ll try hard to leave our egos behind and to become other people.

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