Jim Shepard on Writing Fiction That’s Got Some Truth to It

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“The first worry writers have when they consider working with something like historical events has to do with the issue of authority:  as in, where do I get off writing about that?    Well, here’s the good and the bad news:  where do you get off writing about anything?   Where do you get off writing about someone of a different gender?    A different person?   Where do you get off writing about yourself, from twenty years ago?

Writers shouldn’t lose sight of the essential chutzpah involved in trying to imagine any other kind of sensibility.  And that they should take heart from that chutzpah, as well.   The whole project of literature – the entire project of the arts — is about the exercise of the empathetic imagination.   Why were we given something as amazing as imagination, if we’re not going to use it?”

Jim Shepard “On the Subject of Fiction Based on Nonfiction” at Electric Literature’s blog. Also on their blog,  Chapter 22 of Shya Scanlon’s new serialized novel. (HT)


Seth Fischer's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He teaches and tutors at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles, and he was a Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. Find more writing of his writing at www.seth-fischer.com, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →