Posted in Book Stuff

On Writing

Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t. I’m not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people’s lives, never your own. (Flaubert’s Parrot)

Unless you’re the author–then it’s your own, however far from the facts of your life it might seem. At least that’s true when I write. What about you?



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

8 thoughts on “On Writing

  1. I love this quote!
    While it is true that most novels are close to an author’s real life, I also think it’s true that they never really make sense of your own (ie., the writer’s) life. There is that urge in a writer, I think, to use fiction to gain a sense of mastery of their own lives, and it works, but only to a certain extent. Conversely, I’ve always found that reading other people’s fiction actually does help me makes sense of my own life – it’s been a tremendous help to me that way. Part of it is that understanding others actually does help us figure out life, where we fit, and get a handle on why things happen as they do, to us and others.

  2. I don’t write fiction (at least not really), but I love reading fiction because it gives me different perspectives on life and relationships and the world. Books do “explain things to me” in a very unique way.

    1. That’s what has always drawn me to fiction – how it helps me understand people and life itself. Really good authors have insights that can teach you so much more than cold, hard facts. A novel encourages empathy, and empathy leads to understanding.
      I consider Lilian to be one of those authors who draws you in and helps you “see”.

  3. Fiction has an advantage over non-fiction in that it can give readers a lived experience. That’s why I chose to write Web of Angels as a novel. Creative non-fiction can do the same thing, but it wasn’t the right form for that story. But I’m thinking of a creative non-fiction book for another idea that I had started out conceiving as a novel but it just didn’t work well in my mind in that form.

    Thanks for the kind words, Sheila!

    Becca, so good to see you on my blog again. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Lilian. Long before I discovered your blog, I had added “The Singing Fire” to my list of historical fiction I loved on my Books and Authors page. It was really exciting to discover you were the author.
      Becca, I sent a request for a review to your contact on your blog. I apologize if this is my second request. I am losing track of my “outreach”.

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