I was going to write a post focusing on three paragraphs in chapter two, in which Stephen Hanley is trying to establish a praxis that’s different from therapy. But then I began to wonder: haven’t I already put this bit up on the blog? Turns out I did, in a blogpost from October 2006. In that earlier draft Stephen Hanley narrated his own story; in a subsequent edit I changed to a third person narrator who in this particular passage conveys Hanley’s attitude via “free indirect discourse.”
Some benefits for me of writing fiction:
How can I make general pronouncements without having to argue for them or justify them with supporting evidence? By having my fictional narrator merely assert them.
How can I revisit my own past experiences without resorting to personal confessions? By assigning them as backstories to my characters.
How can I redeem my own stray threads? By doing it virtually, through the characters’ responses to situations I throw them into.
How can I hold onto my own ambivalences without having to resolve them one way or the other? By having different characters embody diverse and conflicting perspectives that I have held myself.
“What I really want, of course, is to become fictional,” he conceded.
Here’s another benefit:
How can I blur the distinction between what’s written and the process of writing it, between the “made” and the “making-of”? By writing metafiction centering on a character who is a writer.
At first my main fictional characters were therapists and consultants, scientists and mystics, pragmatists and dreamers, activists and recluses, fathers and husbands — my personal loose threads from my life before I started writing fiction. Later I shifted heavily toward writing fiction about writers. So I’m thinking now that this making-of series of posts is redundant. Most of what I want to say about my subjective experiences in writing fiction is already embedded in the fiction itself.