Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

A writer goes to marriage counseling

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Andre Dubus

Years ago, when I believed or at least hoped it would work, I spent some time in marriage counseling. The counseling did not work because it was one last try at keeping two people lovingly in the same home and, unlike baseball and other pursuits, like writing fiction, a last act of will to stay married usually comes too late. What we did in the counselor’s office was tell stories. A good counselor won’t let you get by with the lack of honesty and commitment we bring to abstractions. And when we told these stories we discovered the truths that were their essence, that were the very reasons we needed to tell the stories; and, like honest fiction writers, we did not know the truth of the stories until we told them. Or, more accurately, until the stories told themselves, took their form and direction from the tactile language of our memory, our pain, and our hope.

Short story writers simply do what human beings have always done. They write stories because they have to; because they cannot rest until they have tried as hard as they can to write the stories. They cannot rest because they are human, and all of us need to speak into the silence of mortality, to interrupt and ever so briefly stop that quiet flow, and with stories try to understand at least some of it.

Andre Dubus, Broken Vessels

Written by nevalalee

April 30, 2016 at 7:30 am

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