Sitting inside on this beautiful day, staring at the computer screen, I’m wondering once again, why I feel compelled to twist myself into knots this way. I waste a few minutes blaming the universe, my ancestors, God, and everyone I’ve ever met for my compulsion to write.
After letting the dog out, tripping over his leash, and realizing that this pity pot is extremely boring, I decide to answer my own question.
The reason I tell stories is to bear witness and tell the truth about it.
How can there be truth in fiction? If the stories are figments of my imagination or loosely based on a long ago memory, how can that be a truth? And how is that a form of bearing witness?
My characters unfold their stories for me and I have an obligation to tell their stories with conviction and with courage, to go to the places that scare me. And the day I can’t do that is the day I can’t write. There are many of those days, more of those days than courageous writing days. The trick is to keep at it.
Readers tell me the truth back. One woman wrote to me and told me the items she bought at the grocery store after her ex-husband moved out, the things he hated and she adored. That is why I write.
Many women, and some men, wrote to me about the relationships they had with their fathers, what they endured, and the ways they had forgiven. That is why I write.
Women wrote to me and told me the parts that made them cry. They told me a truth about themselves, and I held that truth and appreciated it. That is why I write.
When people laugh loud and hard at a reading, that is the sound of having borne witness. It is the sound of telling the truth. That sound is why I write.
Rebecca Chianese is an author living and working in New York. She is the author of two screenplays, “Daffodil Hill” and “Waltzing With My Father” which were accepted into the Hudson Valley Reading Series. Her plays, “The Session” and “That’s Life” were both produced off-broadway in NYC. Mercy is her first novel.
Rebecca was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She lives with her husband and children in the Historical Hudson Valley. Her love of reading began with the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza and she has been writing as long as she was able to hold a pencil. Walking along the Hudson River is where most of her characters come to life and boss her around until she tells their stories.