Sunday, June 23, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: Sandwich Generation

Chalk one up for real life: the local independent newspaper ran a feature with blinking red lights all over it this week, about a woman whose mother was accused of hiring a hit man to murder her father, and whose son is in prison for murdering her daughter.

She does a lot of volunteer work. She used to do a lot of drugs. She's had to face in real life a lot of things that most of us get to work out safely within the confines of a work of fiction; and she's had to transcend conventional responses like revenge, loyalty, and even forgiveness.

For someone living such a situation, writing a novel about it would be unthinkably painful. Writing out the facts would be difficult enough.

But for someone not living in such a situation, writing a novel about it would be almost the same as a white person writing a story about a person of color: potentially fruitful, clearly necessary, and potentially insensitive and casting more heat than light.

If I were to do this, and I have no intention of it, I'd have to change up the details and the plot so that Charity Lee and her family could relate to the characters, but not feel too closely identified with them. How to go about this would be a crucial writing problem.

As an aside, this week I also checked out Caroline Cooney's final (?) Janie book, Janie Face-to-Face. The Face on the Milk Carton came out in 1990. So we should all be aware that, if you go into these dark corners of the news, if you send your imagination behind the headlines and imagine yourself into an emotional space that the circumstances of your life have, thank heaven, spared you - you may never come all the way out.

Which may be good for your career.

But may trap you.

And either way is kind of scary.

No comments:

Post a Comment