Fiction Is About What We Can’t Say

Silas Dent Zobal

Silas Dent Zobal

If you write fiction, then you don’t want to miss the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, which features three wonderful essays focusing on craft. One of the essays, by Silas Dent Sobal, is a powerful meditation on both how things die and how one writes fiction. Here’s how it starts:

I have a sense that what I ought to do here, on these pages, is speak with you about what it means to write, and about why I keep doing it year after year, and why you shouldn’t unless you feel you must. Maybe, along these lines, I could also offer some entrenched, toadish advice, which I’d only half believe in, about opening sentences, and subjects and predicates, and… 

Well, here’s the thing: I don’t want to talk to you about any of this. I want to talk to you about dying.

I encourage you to read the full essay—click here.

Also check out two other essays:

  • “Risk” by Joshua Henkin: “My graduate students, many of whom are quite talented, are for the most part so afraid of being over the top that they’re subtle to the point of obfuscation. They think they’re being subtle, but the reader has no idea what they’re talking about. I believe writers should risk being over the top.”
  • “Whose Are You” by Natalie Bakopoulos: “The Greek poet George Seferis wrote in his diary: ‘Man is always double: he who acts, and he who sees himself acting; he who suffers, and he who sees himself suffering; he who feels, and he who observes himself feeling.'”
  • Tip: If you enjoy the essays on craft in the Glimmer Train bulletin, I highly recommend checking out one of the compilations that was published.
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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Writing Advice.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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