Many bloggers have posted about the New Year and their resolutions for it — While some have been grandiose, more have been modest or thoughtful. That’s Fact #1.
Many bloggers have ambitions about writing, whether it is to achieve a full-length book or simpler pieces, as the project “River of Stones,” which a number of bloggers I follow have signed on for. That’s Fact #2.
So far I haven’t seen anywhere this awareness that I found on The Writer’s Almanac, the daily e-letter I’ve praised here before (and will continue to do so). It’s a quote from writer Alison Lurie. In her novel Real People (1969), she wrote: “… you can’t write well with only the nice parts of your character, and only about nice things. And I don’t want even to try anymore. I want to use everything, including hate and envy and lust and fear.”
That’s Fact #3, and what I want to do is alert my fellow bloggers with writing ambitions, especially the women, to be careful, not to veer too far off onto the path of niceness, sensitivity, fineness, kindness, sterling qualities. Not to refine yourself out of humanity, not to strive to be more, other, better than you are. YOU, as you are, that’s the true path.
I say this to you because the iron sank deep into the soul when my first novel was published in 1979 (Going to Jerusalem, Simon & Schuster). My enthusiastic editor asked a distinguished woman writer, a friend of hers, to review it. The friend refused, and I’ve never forgotten why: “I see why you want me to like it. But it’s too nice.”
I was raised to be a nice little girl, a nice young woman, an agreeable and unselfish and if-you-can’t-say-something-nice-don’t-say-anything kind of person. To some extent I’ve chipped away at this prison, but will probably never in what remains of my lifetime be able to demolish it totally.
Therefore my New Year’s wish for you is to know and stretch every limb and muscle and trait you possess, the nice and the nasty, the loves and the hates, the grand and the petty, the strengths and the weaknesses. When you write, write deep, don’t be afraid, look at everything unwincing, and embrace it, embrace it all! You’ll be a better writer for it.
(Maybe none of you needs to hear this, maybe current generations are fearless from the cradle. At any rate, I needed to say it. Thanks for listening, anyone who is. And no, this isn’t me, but she’s my new icon!)