8 Comments

The invasion of privacy question is a great one. I don't know the work of either Murdoch or Bayley, but I've heard of both. I'll seek out the film! Another thought-provoking post, Mary - thank you.

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I think all writers are thieves though the artistic crimes range from shoplifting to bank robbery. I'm working on a post about this very theme!

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Interesting, Mary. I've read several of Iris Murdoch's novels. While I respect her Platonic moral / spiritual philosophy and vision, I never found myself really engaging with her characters or story. But I'll probably try again sometime. Do you like her novels?

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Feb 16Liked by <Mary L. Tabor>

Great topic. This is something that took me a long time to work out in my own head: what am I comfortable writing about?

I consider poetry to be fiction, so perhaps many of the same things apply to it as to novels and stories, meaning invention is a good way to avoid trampling on others’ rights and secrets. But still, the temptation to use details of others’ experiences, quotes, anecdotes, all this stuff that’s just lying around unused. I have several poems based on anecdotes friends and relatives have recounted, but I don’t feel entitled to publish these poems. They’re not mine in some sense.

Perhaps I’m almost alone in this. A couple years ago it seemed like there was a sudden rush of Boomer poems about aged parents in nursing homes. Even as just a reader I did not feel comfortable reading them, but evidently the poets had few compunctions about publishing them.

Earlier this week I mentioned elsewhere a book that years ago blew my young mind: Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, because of how it exploded so many writing conventions. Of course it also raises all the questions you’ve raised. Is it seemly to borrow someone else’s life? And re-reading parts of the book this week I kept wondering about what was Alice’s memory (property) and what was Gertrude’s. Still a fascinating book, almost a century later.

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