Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mike Barnes: The Danforth Review Interview

There is a fabulous interview with Mike Barnes over at the Danforth Review. The whole thing can be found here.

Here, however, is a taste:

Did you ever feel while writing this that the simple bare bones "non-fiction" element was too close to home? Did you fear it would trigger a negative outcome?

...Actually, it felt more like relief to concentrate on just my own story, understanding and telling it as well as I could, without the need to create characters and invent things for them to say and do.

At the same time, it felt, if anything, more deeply imagined (as opposed to invented) than fiction: there was a need to find the underlying patterns and structures that could link true events. But I guess you're asking more about personal risk. that was something I was not so aware of at the time–when I felt mostly exhilarated to be recovering the past–but have become very aware of since. More aware every day.

I think there have been, and will be, many negative outcomes for me from writing this book. They’re hard to name and harder to quantify, but I feel them, certainly. Writing names things, which can sound like taming them; but in another sense it gives them new substance and power: it bodies them forth. It’s daunting as well as strengthening to take the true dimensions of an enemy you've been battling...especially when there's no sign of an end to the battle.

At one point, when we were discussing the manuscript, my psychiatrist advised me to be cautious in dealing with what I had recalled. I quoted her (as best I remembered) for apiece I wrote about dealing with what I had written: "What you wrote may have unearthed a box. It may have been sealed for a reason...so you could keep functioning. Now it may be time to open it, or at least peek into it. Cautiously." This is the first time for me as a writer that the period after writing has proved far more difficult than the writing itself.

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