It is your job as a writer to tell the world something it does not already know. This is easily said, but so difficult to do. Seek out those truths that are not self-evident. The more freedom a writer has the more she must become a critic of the place she lives. Depth begins at home. Look around you. Find what it is that is wrong and then begin to write about it, in order to write away from it. You don’t owe allegiance to your government. You don’t owe allegiance to accepted ideas. But you do owe allegiance to that elusive notion of truth. Elusive, why? Because once you have found it, it has probably already changed into something new, something even more pernicious. There will always be new cruelties to confront. The will be new problems to occupy. In the end writing solves nothing. Be joyful about that. But – at the same time — never forget that writing matters. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. Whitman says we contain multitudes. Bergman says that he who loves a lie tells the truth. Joyce says that good writing recreates life out of life. So, strike the letter onto the page. No preaching involved. No sermonising. No pointless barking at the passing caravans. Just earnest endeavour and grit. A true mining of your own world. The ability to force yourself into the darkest corner in order to discover something that hasn’t yet been said. Yes, I know, these words are so easily said, and so difficult to accomplish, but no matter, you have to do it. Look closely at yourself, your community, your loved ones. Speak out. You should write so as not to fall silent. That’s the truth, or the closest we might get.
Letters to Young Writers | Young Writers Archive