Write From The Wound

A thing writing teachers (including me) love to say is “Write from the scar, not the wound.”

It’s good advice – for more on why, listen to Joselin Linder talk about it on Gotham’s Inside Writing) – but as we move into month 111 of living through three global crises, I’ve been thinking about the value of writing from the wound.

Consider the work of James Baldwin. In essays and fiction, Baldwin chronicled the pain of racial injustice, the turmoil of desegregation, and the voices, violence, and victories of the Civil Rights movement. Sometimes he wrote about crisis as it was still unfolding; sometimes, he wrote about it a decade or more later, with hindsight.

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Writing The Other

In recent weeks, the enormous and enormously moving Black Lives Matter protests have triggered an overdue reckoning in every facet of American life, including the worlds of publishing, Hollywood, and journalism about barriers that keep writers of color from telling their stories, and how those barriers can be torn down.

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Before and After

Write a description of a lake as seen through the eyes of someone who has just committed a murder. Do not mention the murder.

That exercise—made famous by the novelist John Gardner in his writing book The Art of Fiction and a favorite of many Gotham teachers—has been on my mind a lot this week, as more and more writers ponder out loud what it means to write in the time of coronavirus.  Continue reading “Before and After”