anghara (anghara) wrote,

The responsibilities of a writer

Philip Pullman says it much better than I can, here.

A few of the money quotes -

He weighs in on the "cultural appropriation" debate:

"And stories make themselves at home anywhere. Nowadays a storyteller in Ireland can learn Australian stories, an African storyteller can tell Indonesian stories, a storyteller in Poland can pass on Inuit stories. Should we storytellers make sure we pass on the experience of our own culture? Yes, of course. It's one of our prime duties. But should we only tell stories that reflect our own background? Should we self-righteously refrain from telling stories that originated elsewhere, on the grounds that we don't have the right to annex the experience of others? Absolutely not. A culture that never encounters any others becomes first inward-looking, and then stagnant, and then rotten. We are responsible - there's that word again - for bringing fresh streams of story into our own cultures from all over the world."

He encapsulates something I've been saying for years, and tried to live by in my own stories:

"My feeling is that whatever we depict in our stories, we should show that actions have consequences. A couple of years ago, Melvin Burgess's Carnegie Medal-winning novel Junk created a storm among the professional fusspots, because it dealt among other things with the life of young drug addicts. But Burgess was showing exactly the sort of responsibility I'm talking about. It's a profoundly moral story, because it shows that temptation is truly tempting, and that actions have consequences, and that when people make a mess of their lives, they have to deal with the results."

And, finally, something that resonates DEEPLY for me:

"lmost the last in my list of responsibilities is this: we have to pay attention to what our imagination feels comfortable doing. In my own case, for reasons too deeply buried to be dug up, I have long felt that realism is a higher mode than fantasy; but when I try to write realistically, I move in boots of lead. However, as soon as the idea comes to me, for example, of little people with poison spurs who ride on dragonflies, the lead boots fall away, and I feel wings at my heels. For many reasons (which, as I say, are beyond the reach of disinterment) I may regret this tendency of my imagination, but I can't deny it. Sometimes our nature speaks more wisely than our convictions, and we'll only work well if we listen to what it says."

Read the rest. Good stuff.
Tags: books, writing, writing life

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