As a nonfiction writer who has recently turned to fiction, I am compelled to share the essay “Highly Unlikely” by the fabulous Vendela Vida. After years of writing about actual events and being bound by relating the facts in my writing, I have discovered an exciting freedom in writing fiction. The imagination is a powerful thing, and Vida is a writer whose imaginative stories are expansive, unique, and a pleasure to read. I reviewed her 2015 book “The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty” in the Post and Courier and wrote:
“Vida creates mournful scenes where the narrator is vulnerable and lonely, which makes us eager to follow as she dives into the next scene. Maddening in her recklessness (we wonder, who would do that?), the narrator’s illogical, spontaneous decisions are liberating (we think, wouldn’t it be great to do that?).”
The “unbelievability” of her character’s decisions are what made the book such a pleasure to read. In her essay “Highly Unlikely” Vida writes about the double standard in realistic fiction.
“As readers, we don’t want to read stories that are less interesting than the everyday lives we lead. Do we? And as writers I don’t think we should necessarily have to explain that something did happen in real life to justify a a novel’s unlikely plot. Of course it’s unlikely. That’s why we read. That’s why we write.”