Tell it slant
In this Edge Effects interview, Lauren Groff offers perspective for any ‘climate fiction’ writer feeling environmental despair even while celebrating nature. “My only talent is as a writer. That’s the only thing I can do. So now I feel as though I am being immoral if I am not addressing it somehow in my work. Of course, I write literary fiction, so it can’t be polemical. If it’s polemical, I’ve failed. I need to do something more scalpel-like, something a little bit sideways.”
That echoes words from another writer, Jay Griffiths. Speaking at the first Weatherfronts event I organised for TippingPoint, Jay urged anyone wanting to write ‘fiction about climate change’ to not write about climate change. “The art must come first … Tell it slant,” — quoting Emily Dickinson’s ‘Tell all the truth but tell it slant’. “It’s always seemed to me that’s the best way to ever think about writing. It’s what happens in your peripheral vision, it’s askance. Hold it near to you and then it will flow into what you do; it can’t not.” Focusing ‘scalpel-like’ while looking askance? Maybe it’s a paradox we must embrace when writing the unwritable.