Carol Shields on invention over invasion
Something to go with your Sunday morning coffee...Carol Shields did a terrific essay "Opting for Invention Over the Injury of Invasion" for the NY Times Writers on Writing series.
Here's a bit:
One day I ran into an acquaintance at a shopping mall. She had just bought herself a beautiful new spruce-green nightgown, and she opened her bag an inch or two, so I might admire it.
"And now," she said, "I must rush off to buy some matching candles." I must have looked bewildered because she immediately explained, "Oh, I have candles to match all my nightgowns."
I was in the midst of a novel at the time, as I usually am, and I couldn't resist putting in this particular report from the Frontier of Real Life. I relish such curious glimpses into people's lives, flashes of uniqueness that reveal, in a blink of the eye, their extraordinary otherness.
But months later, when I came to read the proofs for the novel, I took the candles-and-nightgown reference out. My friend would be sure to read the book, and certainly she would recognize herself, since she must be the only person in the Western Hemisphere who carries color coordination to this extreme. The excision cost me a sigh of regret. But it preserved our acquaintance, and perhaps avoided a storm of self-consciousness on her part...
Is it worth it? Every novelist will reply differently.
Click here to read the entire article, and have a lovely Sunday.