The most difficult thing a novelist can do is sit before people to testify as this act reveals the literary journey, which turned him into an author. The gathering will thus resemble a sad adventure on a beautiful and hospitable stage. His confession helps people understand the extent of his depth or simplicity.
It is through this confession he answers if he relied on experience or impulse. Did he become a writer due to a legacy he inherited or was it all just an adventure? He will reveal his world as he narrates his life events and the difficulties he faced until he became an author.
Confession is a sophisticated art but no matter how convincing and creative it is, it is still difficult and costly. If the author sheds a tear as he is talking about himself, it must be a tear of sadness which some may view as a reflection of weariness and weakness.
Authors make these confessions during meetings about novels. They willingly make them as no one exerts any pressure on them to speak.
One such recent gathering was at the Sultan bin Ali al-Owais Cultural Foundation. The novelists’ confessions took different forms. Some were reasonable while others were defiant and sentimental.
The author’s confession is different than any other confession because it requires plenty of courage and energyReem Al-Kamali
Their testimonies noted that they mainly wrote to vent out on circumstances they have been through. Writing became a decision. The testimonies were not that rebellious as the words were carefully selected – unlike the case with classic authors who due to tough circumstances had to continuously speak out and write to promote ideas which traditions fought for so long.
The author’s confession is different than any other confession because it requires plenty of courage and energy. The author needs them to expose his contradicting experience before people as he does not sit before them to pretend he’s someone he’s not or to show people how eloquent or moral or perfect he is. This would not count as confessional literature as it simply resembles false typical confessions we have heard throughout history.
The author’s life is full of transformations and painful secrets. This pain is undoubtedly his weapon. When an author writes voicing opinions that readers disagree with, readers decide to no longer read for him. This happened with many authors who willingly opened their wounds and purely spoke about their feelings.
The public thought this was reckless and they decided not to look at these confessions. Confessional literature thus becomes more like revenge, particularly after the author opened up and spilled his secrets.
Sometimes I wonder who invented the idea of confessional literature. Was it for the purpose of sneaking up on authors? What a tax then!
This article is also available in Arabic.
Reem Al-Kamali is an Emirati author and journalist based in the UAE who specializes in history and literature. Her twitter handle is @reemalkamali.