Sunday, August 09, 2015

Fictional people

Being at the point of having completed the first full draft of my latest piece of fiction*, and of having a sense that most of the characters seem to have had a life of their own even before they discovered themselves in the pages of my book, I was pleased to re-read this paragraph by Marilynne Robinson, from her essay, Imagination and Community (from the book of essays, When I was a child I read books). 

"I would say, for the moment, that community, at least community larger than the immediate family, consists very largely of imaginative love for people we do not know or whom we know very slightly. This thesis may be influenced by the fact that I have spent literal years of my life lovingly absorbed in the thoughts and perceptions of—who knows it better than I?—people who do not exist. And, just as writers are engrossed in the making of them, readers are profoundly moved and also influenced by the nonexistent, that great clan whose numbers increase prodigiously with every publishing season. I think fiction may be, whatever else, an exercise in the capacity for imaginative love, or sympathy, or identification."

I found this paragraph in an article on Robinson, by Mark O'Connell, which is well worth reading for its other insights too. 

* The Disenchanted Wizard, the third book of fantasy for children, all under the general umbrella of Grimhilderness. 
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