Last week, I read a really cool essay about reading and writing fiction for my art class. I’m not 100 percent sure why it’s relevant to my art class, but it was an amazing essay regardless, and I think it’s relevant beyond the world of fiction reading/writing. Here is one of my favorite parts:
“With a cliché, you have pandered to a shared understanding, you have taken a short-cut, you have re-presented what was pleasing and familiar rather than risked what was true and strange. It is an aesthetic and an ethical failure: to put it very simply, you have not told the truth. When writers admit to failures, they like to admit to the smallest ones – for example, in each of my novels, somebody ‘rummages through their purse’ for something because I was too lazy and thoughtless and unawake to separate ‘purse’ from its old, persistent friend ‘rummage.’ To rummage through a purse is to sleepwalk through a sentence.”
“Fail Better” by Zadie Smith
I’ve always known you shouldn’t use clichés, but I’ve never understood it as well as I do now, thanks to Miss Zadie.
There were also really cool parts about authors’ personalities coming through in their work, the qualifications of a “good” novel being one that is thought-provoking and challenging, and even an argument on how a good novel requires a good reader. All in all, a really outstanding reading, especially for a class reading! I recommend it to anyone who reads or writes.