On Writers, Egos and Truth

Foster underpass by Jason Pettus
Foster underpass by Jason Pettus
The writer’s job is to tell the truth…All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.                   
                                               – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I was thinking about two things on my bike ride down to Logan Square. Well, three. One was a feeling, really: how blissful it felt to be pedaling by the river, music ablaze in my ears, sunshine ablaze on my shoulder blades. Two was contemplating this odd task I’ve taken on of writing about myself – spending hour upon hour thinking about my life, traveling through my past. I was puzzling over why I feel driven to write about myself in this way. Are writers, specifically memoirists, monologuists, poets who draw on their personal experience, everyone who writes about themselves, are we all raging egomaniacs? The third thing I was thinking about was truth. Because when I think about why I write about myself, my life, it comes down to wanting to tell the truth. And I wondered what makes the truth so important.

I put the egomaniac question to Roger, with whom I’ve been meeting to share work and critique. We sat at a bar; I had a beer and a Cuban sandwich (which blessedly involved both plantains and pickles) while the sweat cooled on my skin.

“Are writers in love with themselves?” I asked. Continue reading On Writers, Egos and Truth