Last night Tom Barbash said in his craft talk to make the manuscript truthful first, elegant later. Pam Houston said she looks to the metaphor for truth. Tonight, Josh Weil said that he honors his first draft for its freshness, its honesty, and its truth.
Cynthia – I really, really wanted to attend this workshop, so I appreciate these words today. Have a blast. Kerri
Kerri, great to hear from you. If you’d like some more nuggets from the conference, you can check out my twitter feed and the feed for writingxwriters. Hope to see you at one of our workshops in the future! And welcome to Catching Days!
I could be difficult and point out that there are often many truths about the same thing, often contradictory. (See, for instance, Philip Roth’s post-modern “The Counterlife.”) But I suppose what these three speakers mean by “truth” in a writing workshop is getting right to what you want to say, without a scrim of “fine writing” either to obscure it or else to conceal the fact there may not be much of real substance underneath. I’ll buy that.
Nina, I would be disappointed if you were not difficult : ) For sure there are many truths about the same thing–and often contradictory ones, which is why reading is wonderful and why I keep reading. And there are many layers to truth. More importantly, though, I think if there is nothing of substance underneath, that would be the opposite of truth–and not very interesting reading.
What it means to me that each of these writers was speaking about the truth is that truth is the important thing–the reason for writing and the reason for reading. The truth, whatever it is for each writer, is what we are after. And all these mentions of truth are more confirmation that I am on the right path here.
From Cheryl Strayed: “[T]wo things can be true at once — even opposing truths. It could be true that you will suffer forever because you were sexually abused as a child — it can also be true that you can overcome that and not let that experience define your life. And you can hold those two truths in two hands, and walk forward.”