“To write what you know needn’t mean a fictional rehashing of your own circumstances: it sometimes means taking a single strand from your own life – a small incident, an inexplicably resonant encounter, an unnamed feeling – and giving it to another, a fictional creation with whom you share not race or gender or history, but something both less defining and yet also more profound. A writer cannot make only characters who resemble her; she must allow herself a literary transgression, even if she is not certain she can pull it off – the best characters are always the most frightening to write, and they are frightening to write because they are unlike you, because they are creations, because they appear to be not mere replications of the self. It is, ironically, those characters who are also truest, because in their differences, their othernesses, they make the writer confront the largest, most troubling questions about how we live. To write this way may not be brave: but it is unafraid, and sometimes, in art, one is just as good as the other.”
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