Vol. 5: Tim Weed Writes to Offer Solace in Difficult Times
In the lead up to last year's Muse and the Marketplace conference, we produced a series that explored the experience of working in a dominantly white industry as a person of color. This year, we're kicking off the #Muse17 conversation with another timely topic. In the face of a challenging political climate and amid reports that the NEA and other cultural programs face significant spending cuts and may be slashed altogether, we asked authors, agents, and editors presenting at the conference: What is a writer for? Why is now an important time to advocate for the writer's -- and literature's -- role in society? This installment comes from author and Grub Instructor Tim Weed, who will be leading the Essentials of Voice in Fiction Muse session.
Good fiction is hypnotic because it offers an intensely vicarious experience—that of an alien consciousness facing struggles analogous to those we confront in our own lives. We read novels and stories for distraction, for entertainment, yet the best fiction also gives us something life itself cannot: direct exposure to the internal life of another human being. It is this unique backstage access that makes good fiction more immersive and emotionally gripping than any other narrative medium.
James Baldwin wrote:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
If fiction can offer solace in these difficult times, then I’m proud to partake in that effort. If fiction can make a reader feel less alone and more connected to the rest of the universe, even better. And if fiction is a pathway to deeper empathy—well, in the current moment, that qualifies as an act of resistance.
So while I will be out in the streets and in the public square, I don’t plan to stop writing fiction because reality suddenly seems more pressing. On the contrary, I plan to redouble my efforts: to buckle down, keep my daily appointment with the Muse, and clear my mind to let the words tumble slowly out into the light.
Tim Weed's first novel, Will Poole’s Island (Namelos, 2014), was named one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year. He is the winner of Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction and Solas Best Travel Writing awards, and his work has appeared in Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Talking Points Memo, The Rumpus, Writer's Chronicle, and elsewhere. Tim teaches at GrubStreet and in the MFA Writing program at Western Connecticut State University, and is the co-founder of the Cuba Writers’ Program. His new short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder and Fly Fishing (Green Writers Press), is out in April, 2017. You can find out more about him and his work at timweed.net and follow him on Twitter @weedlit.
GrubWrites is a space for the writing and reading community to share ideas and seek advice, a place where writers at the very beginning of their careers publish alongside established authors. Book lovers, we bring you reviews, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to keep you up to speed on all things lit. Writers, this is your one stop shop for expert craft talk, opinions on how we learn and teach writing, and essential advice about the publishing industry.
Plus, we want to hear from you! Our ongoing call for submissions is open to literary community members of all types and persuasions. We want to hear from students, teachers, authors, readers, editors, agents, publicists, and any devotee of the written word. If you have something to say about writing, reading, the publishing industry, or anything related to the literary world, this is the place to voice it. We’re particularly committed to advocating for a diverse range of voices in the literary marketplace and raising the visibility of writers from under-represented communities.See other articles by Info