Re: RARA-AVIS: D. Lynds: Work habits

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 30 May 2005

You mentioned earlier that Uptown Downtown, which I've just barely started, was highly autobiographical, as I can see from your above description. I was wondering how you deal with autobiographal material while writing. How much is truth, how much invention? I'm not so much asking what in the book is true as about the writing process of using and changing life into literature. I know that's kind of vague, but any insight would be appreciated.

    The key is to have a story to tell, which, usually, has nothing to do with you personally. In other words the "story" is imagined, abstracted, generalized, made universal as Aristotle (WOW) said fiction must. Your story is not what happened to you, nor is it about you. It has been drawn from your experiences, but is not about you. The facts of your life are used as they were, but bent to an imaginative purpose. You select and extrapolate from your own experience to make a story that can be meaningful to anyone.


As for autobiographical, though, I'm curious about how immersed you were in the early '60s Village folk scene. You mentioned knowing Leadbelly slightly. Did you know other principals on the scene? Were you a spectator or did you play, like your character? Were you actively involved in the politics of the time?


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