Relating to Unrelatable Characters

I have a new guest post up over at ReadLearnWrite. I’ve written about this issue before, but it was only recently after watching Fran Lebowitz talk about it in Public Speaking that it really started making perfect sense to me. I just can’t stand when people dismiss good pieces of literature just because the characters or experiences they describe are so far off from their own. Isn’t that one of the reasons to read fiction in the first place? To get a glimpse of what it’s like to be someone else? And hopefully, in the process, learn a thing or two? If you’re drawn to the unrelatable, it’s always a test of empathy: taking the extra leap and putting in the effort to understand a life that would seem so strange adjacent to your own.


Carousel #9

  1. One of my old creative writing professors was named a Guggenheim fellow. Pretty fantastic. A friend of mine called my attention to it and we reminisced about our days in fiction workshop at the Biscayne Bay campus and our quick dinners at Taco Bell.
  2. Huh. Here’s something new I learned today: apparently, Emily Dickinson used to love to bake a lot. Here’s the original recipe for her coconut cake.
  3. About a month or so ago, I read Edith Wharton’s book called The Writing of Fiction, which gives her opinions on writers and advice on the writing process (from novels to short stories to genre fiction, like horror). Here’s her story, “Copy: A Dialogue,” which was published in Scribner’s Magazine in 1900.
  4. I recently watched Martin’s Scorsese’s documentary, Public Speaking,¬†on the writer and social commentator Fran Lebowitz. Here’s a video clip of Lebowitz discussing the posterity of Jane Austen. I love the idea of how readers should view books as doors rather than mirrors.
  5. I don’t know about the readers of this blog, but I’m a largely introverted person. In fact, I’m probably the most introverted person I know. Ever since I was little, this has been treated as a huge issue in pretty much every facet of my life. Then along comes Susan Cain and her TED talk. She is the author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which I plan on reading sometime hopefully this year (my to-read list is getting ridiculous again, of course). If you’re an introvert, you may find it reassuring to be reminded every once in a while that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of who you are.