Wednesday, April 1, 2015

LU MFA Foundations: On Empathy--Kelli Allen

Kelli Allen recommends this article as an example of how spending time reading can help develop empathy. Her notes and the article link are below:

We cannot write if we do not read, and read WELL.

Being an excellent writer requires one to be empathic: An author must be able to recognize, explore, nurture, and sometimes let go, the many personalities she brings to the page. She can only do this by being an extraordinary reader. Reading allows us to cultivate methods to experience, demonstrate, and expand our capacity for empathy. If we are great readers, we can aspire to be even better writers. Neil Gaiman explains why the reader-writer-reader dynamic is vital for crafting, appreciating, and understanding how to be an empathetic artist, nay, human.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming:


An excerpt:

“And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. 

And it's this:

The world doesn't have to be like this. Things can be different.”


In the LU MFA Foundations series, our faculty members 
discuss or clarify foundational elements of the craft of creative writing.
Other entries in the series are linked here.

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