I just completed an interview for the forthcoming issue of the University of California at Irvine’s undergraduate creative writing journal, New Forum. Here’s an excerpt:
NF: Many writers including myself grapple with the fact that creative writing in American culture is for the most part considered leisure or hobby at best. There is an essential and important urgency which underlies passion for literature and yet remains beyond my ability to explain. How do you articulate your passion for writing? What is the role of creative writing to you and what do you envision its role is in society?
AC: Well, for example, what I know about the Chinese emperors of times gone by is from Mencius. A poet. Not from any historical record those emperors commissioned.
What does that mean? It means what we do is not frivolous. What we do is record the culture, for the times we live in and the time to come. We communicate the values of the culture to each other and to posterity. This is so important…The treatment of the arts as decorative is criminal. Art, as the comic artist Lynda Barry says, is an immune system, for each of us. If we don’t participate, we’ll die.