Truman Capote

Truman was a master of his craft. He began writing at around eight years of age and had a passion that few could match. Interestingly, while very passionate about writing, he felt he needed a bit of emotional distance from his story in order to craft it properly. I am not sure this is what I would recommend for those in Narrative Therapy, but it is interesting to note that Truman moved through his story emotionally, before creating what he perceived to be a sufficient distance from which to write.

Truman Capote
Truman Capote

I once had a disagreement with a friend who believed that “writers are just born” and that no amount of practice, experience or insight could make a writer out of someone without this “natural” talent. Obviously, I disagreed with her and – not surprisingly – she considered herself to be one of those people born to be a writer. This section of the interview with Capote reminded me of that conversation:

INTERVIEWER

Are there devices one can use in improving one’s technique?

CAPOTE

Work is the only device I know of. Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. Even Joyce, our most extreme disregarder, was a superb craftsman; he could write Ulysses because he could write Dubliners. Too many writers seem to consider the writing of short stories as a kind of finger exercise. Well, in such cases, it is certainly only their fingers they are exercising.

Like Capote, I believe that you can learn to write or – as the interviewer says – learn to improve one’s technique. This ability to learn to create narratives is not limited to writing fiction, but can be mastered in the stories of one’s life. If you are stuck in a rut of dominant narratives created by your society, your family or even yourself, you can learn to create new stories for yourself – new narratives that better serve to create the life you desire.

While I referenced my hard copy of this interview, it is also available online at https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4867/truman-capote-the-art-of-fiction-no-17-truman-capote.