Creating art and creating ourselves are the same act
We are entering a very singular world together. The world of public discourse — political, social, diplomatic, commercial — has so corrupted language that we are rightly more suspicious of the meaning of words than we are convinced of their veracity. Language has been turned on its head. Still, language contains the possibility of revelation. Those who fiercely pursue the writing of journals, life histories, or autobiographies do so because they sense that the words that have been used to rob them of individuality are the very means by which they can restore dignity and create identity. When truthfulness is honored, describing the world and describing ourselves are the same act. Creating art and creating ourselves are the same act; art, world, ourselves — these are continuous with one another.
What is Truth?
I believe that an author’s truth has to leave room for the reader’s truth, even when the author is the only reader. Readers need to believe they can form a personal frame of reference. Creative writing has to be broader than the writer. Even purely factual history will make more sense if the subject is enriched with a wider context.
Journaling can be tricky. The confessional and the memoir are especially vulnerable to self-indulgence, and self-indulgence is too easily one dimensional. Self-important recitations are unsatisfying firsthand, like a meal that leaves you hungry for something else. Why should it be any better when written and read? The writer needs to stretch, to be broader than their topic.
Truth is bigger than facts.
Big doesn’t mean high drama. Small things can say a lot. Consider Alice Walker’s line, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”
I think that the best writing will open the author. Learning is acknowledged, and there is a willingness to experience more – “language contains the possibility of revelation.”