Can writers riff or am I just a wanna-be musician? Today’s post in Beyond The Margins by my friend and member of my long-term writer’s group and multi-writer blog (and fantastic writer) Javed Jahangir, stopped me in my morning compu-reads, where the daily Beyond post is always a first stop. No one but Javed could come up with a line like:
“ . . . were we simply writers unable to snap off our stories from the sticky resin of history?”
Of course, I stole it for this post.
Javed writes of the difficulties of knowing how to tackle one’s history when writing. I think this is something that can be looked at large or small. There is the history of a country that one carries within one—even when leaving that land—and there is the history of a family which one carries—not matter where you travel.
In his piece, Javed references the push and pull of revealing all of one’s ethnic and cultural past. Is that not also true when revealing our family histories? Do we spill it out, perhaps all gussied up in fictional ribbons, or do we tamp it down and let it spill out in odd moments? (For instance when the vampire-hero begins musing on his over-bearing father at the moment of clamping his teeth into the heroine’s neck.)
When I wrote The Murderer’s Daughter, I drew on a history of violence in my family—but I don’t want to be known as “the domestic violence writer.” The novel I am currently pushing to it’s conclusion addresses infidelity and the waves of collateral damage it engenders. Will it make me a “family issues writer?” An ‘infidelity writer.”
So far, there is always a Jewish character or family in the mix of my writing. Thus, will I be labeled a “Jewish writer” even when my Jewish families break all stereotypes of what might be considered typical?
Javed has no final answers, any more than I do—though I find it interesting how some are labeled: Jewish writer, African-American writer, Bangladeshi writer, women writer, but rarely do you see white-man-writer. Does this make the WMW the norm and all else outside the norm?
Oh, and since Javed’s piece is so extraordinary, I’m making sure to guest post it here very soon. Thank you, Javed for allowing me to do that.
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