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Posts Tagged ‘Tolstoy’

Three great writers consider the concept of “truth” as it relates to the creative process:

“The hero of my tale – whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all his beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful – is Truth.” — Tolstoy,”Sevastopol in May 1855″

“Truth is various; truth comes to us in different disguises; it is not with the intellect alone that we perceive it.” — Virginia Woolf, “On Not Knowing Greek”

“I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction.” — Katherine Anne Porter

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DSCN7684When you’re working on a novel, not writing is part of the writing process.  At least that’s what I told myself today.  It was a gorgeously mild and sunny day — Memorial Day; the park across the street from our house was filled with people biking, strolling, and listening to a military band that played for hours.  (The music wafted across the pond: muted patriotism.)  The kids were home from school, milling aimlessly around the house, and eventually I abandoned all thought of work and took them to a lake for the afternoon, where I sat in an Adirondack chair and read Anna Karenina.

Tolstoy’s exacting descriptions — his careful parsing of behaviors and attitudes, woven gracefully into the narrative — made me think of my own character, a 90-year-old woman with complicated responses to and relationships with everyone around her.  From Tolstoy I am learning (re-learning; I read this novel once before, in my early twenties) how to give an omniscient narrator immediacy and warmth.  And I wonder about the perspective I’m employing in my own novel-in-progress, alternating first-person and third-person limited chapters.  Perhaps the third-person perspective should be broader?  That would allow me to bring in other points of view — one in particular that I haven’t been sure how to convey.  I’ll be thinking hard about this question of perspective in the coming weeks.

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