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Monday, January 27, 2014

Walter Mosley

"The job of the writer is to take a close and uncomfortable look at the world they inhabit, the world we all inhabit, and the job of the novel is to make the corpse stink."

— Walter Mosley
American Novelist
1952 - 

First a disclaimer:  Walter Mosley is one of my favorite mystery novelists.  I have read 15 of his novels and am working on number 16.  In recent years, he has turned to writing science fiction and I love them as well.  He is a masterful storyteller.  But I have not read his book on how to write a novel.  I think I learned more from reading his novels than I would from a book on how to write a novel.

The question this quote evokes in me is: Why do we write?  What is our job?  Some people say that we should make art for the sake of making art.  Others think that we are entertainers, to make people feel good.  Some think all art is political and that our job is to change the world.

So I ask again:  What is the purpose of creating art?  What is our job?  To hold a mirror up to the world and to show people what reality is really like?  To motivate people to change their behavior?  To improve the world and provide opportunity for the less fortunate?

Creative Practice
This week explore why you write or paint or speak?  What motivates you to create?

Walter Mosley was born in California, the son of a Jewish mother with Russian ancestors and an African-American father from Louisiana.  His father served in the army during World War II and was a custodian in a Los Angeles public school.  He was an only child and graduated from high school in 1970.  He traveled around Europe during his hippie phase.  He graduated from Johnson State College in Vermont with a degree in political science.  He married Joy Kellman, a dancer, in 1987.  After reading the book, The Color Purple, he was inspired to take a course in writing at City College in Harlem.  Edna O'Brien was his mentor.

Mosley began writing at 34 and has published more than 40 books.  He is best known for his 12 Easy Rawlins mysteries set in Los Angeles during the 1950's and 1960's.  He also has published two other mystery series.  He has also written several science fiction novels as well as non-fiction books.

Here is Walter Mosley talking about writing and literature.