Thursday, December 29, 2011

The New Yorker: "Creative Writing" by Etgar Keret

January 2, 2012: “Creative Writing” by Etgar Keret

This is a very short little story that writers, especially, will appreciate. It’s about Maya and Aviad, a couple coping with Maya’s miscarriage. Maya takes a creative writing class to give her something to do, and her work is well received by her instructor. She writes three stories, each of which is possibly a commentary on her own life and relationship with her husband. Aviad seems to be somewhat jealous of Maya’s success with her stories, so he secretly signs up for a beginning course (taught by someone else). In his first class, in a free-writing exercise, he writes a story about a fish. And this story also seems to reveal something about Aviad.

Based on the Q&A with Etgar Keret, we suppose that the stories mostly reveal that both Maya and Aviad are exploring their feelings toward one another in these stories, but don’t know exactly how they feel. It does seem that Aviad is more certain than Maya, but then he’s only written one story so far.
Is that what we do as writers? Explore our own feelings through our characters? Keret says he is all of the characters:
When I write a story, I am all the characters in it. I can’t write a character I don’t feel some emotional identification with, even if it is the hired killer who murders the protagonist’s pregnant wife. Since all those characters exist in my head, they have to be me, in some sense, to have a “real” body in the story world. 
I don’t think that’s true for me. Some of my characters certainly must be the “other” even if I do try to imagine how they would feel and to empathize with them.

What about you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an amateur fiction writer, I have to agree with Keret on this. Every character is a self-projection. Even if they wouldn't react as you would in real life, or have your real life values, you project yourself through each and every character. Even if you're portraying someone else, you give them characteristics of what you see in them, and, often times, adjust their character to better fit what you want them to be like.