In the Washington Post, Walter Mosley has put down his own two bits about this thing called writing, specifically writing for an audience and dealing with politics. Though he doesn’t use the word “art”, this is, to my mind, the essence of what he’s talking about. What is your writing getting at? Why should it even exist? Because the truth is that simply because novels exist doesn’t mean they should. And to try and keep everyone happy is a treacherous path. His words are worth listening to in a way that mine often aren’t.
It comes down to this: Writing novels requires an obsession with our truths. Those truths are not put into novels for witnesses but for co-conspirators. The good novelist knows that Truth is always accompanied by its silent partner: Guilt. She knows that our humanity makes us responsible for events that transpire in this world. She knows, too, that we’re not willing to accept the blame. We don’t see our culpability even though it’s our dollars being spent, our God we prefer above all others, our own image in that silvered mirror that becomes our standard for beauty and innocence. The novelist has the potential to shine light on these blind sides. But she must do it deftly, with a sharp beam. Blindside a reader, and you forfeit everything.