A guide to self-reflection for writers…and others…

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: EssaysHow to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Highly recommended to all writers. I’m already going back and rereading. Today went back to “The autobiography of my novel” chapter for a few choice quotes:

“The story of your life, described, will not describe how you came to think about your life or yourself, nor describe any of what you learned. This is what fiction can do—I think it is even what fiction is for.”

“I was imitating the plotless fiction of the 1980s…All of my stories lacked action or ended in inaction because that was what my imagination had always done to protect me from my own life, the child’s mistaken belief that if he stays still and silent, he cannot be seen, and this was wrong.”

“I needed to learn how plot and causality could be expressed in story—not one I read, but one I wrote…Plot was also a way of facing what I couldn’t or wouldn’t remember.”

Chee’s take on Aristotle’s Poetics and the difference between history and poetics (drama): The difference is that the one relates what actually happened, and the other the kinds of events that would happen.”

“I wish I could show you the roomful of people who’ve told me the novel is the story of their lives. Each of them is as different as could be. I still don’t know if I’d be in that room.”

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