One of those things that MFA instructors will tell you is that you should write from within the body. This means, capture the feeling of what it is to be a person living inside a body. Stay in the concrete, the real, the specific. Don’t allow yourself to zoom out or to speed through your scenes.
I think this is often pretty good advice, and I’ve read some great books that were written from deep within the body. But at the same time, I don’t really care to do it with my own writing. To be honest, I don’t think we’re really living our lives within our bodies. We get up every day, we eat, we walk to the bus, and our knees creak when we sit down, and none of it really makes any sense. To me, fiction isn’t about that. It’s about the drama of life. Why do we do what we do? What are we expecting? What is our view of ourselves and our place in the world?
And, most importantly, fiction is about the role of other people. What do I want from them, and what do they want from me? At least fifty percent of this, by the way, is psycho-drama. It’s not something you could film; it’s a drama that takes place entirely inside your own mind. Like with the white men I mention yesterday who are sure they’re oppressed, they’ve taken a few points of information and they’ve used them to create an entire world, and then they act as if that world is true. Fiction allows you to see that world! And that’s what I’m interested in: the stuff about life that’s not real and not of the body.