Literature should not function as a dividing line between the haves and the have-nots, just as the expansion of the literary world to more fairly represent a world in which people are more than white or male or straight has added untold riches to the canon, so too would the stories of working-class folk go a long way toward improving our representation of and understanding of the greater world. … the creation of literature demands a certain honesty about one’s experiences, that we might narrow the gaps between our fellow human beings. In making art, writing about my experiences gives me a space in which to create resonance, and be truthful. There have been times in my life I’ve wished I had the money or the connections that would allow me to travel around the world for a year, to write a book about everything I’d seen and felt. And then I remind myself that I come from a long line of men and women who have survived being poor peasants, and then survived working down in the mines, and on the floors of the factories of Manchester. My father was a little boy when his family moved out of the Manchester slums and into a semi-detached house away from the urban-industrial grime. That’s a legacy to be proud of. And so, as I go forward, I choose to keep writing about that kind of working-class experience, to continue carving out a place for that kind of story in what we think of as literature.

  • Memory as Collage ‘In Enough About You: Notes Toward the New Autobiography, David Shields says, “As a writer, I love language as much as any element in the universe, but I also have trouble living anywhere other than in language. If I’m not writing it down, experience doesn’t really register.” I can relate to this.I try to pin down experience for fear of losing it. Convinced my sieve-mind will filter out the most precious pieces, I keep various written tracks of what’s happening. In its most basic form, this means that I write things down and chronicle my living in something that sits between a captain’s log and a teenager’s diary. This feeds my Writer’s Mind, which hovers, always, narrating my life as I live it; pre-forming what will be written later. Writing things down also helps me think through, elevating experience to a more meaningful, useful level. I’m less victim to the indifference of the world – I lived, and it meant something. Perhaps this is why, when I try to remember, I find it comforting to draw on what I’ve written. With the help of this record, things look more real.’

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