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By Ramawatar Yadav

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And when I started to write again, it was in the voice of a woman who might have been my great-grandmother. Liberated from my place and time, I found myself inventing a woman's voice quite different from my own. But as I began to fashion this alternate family history, I found myself at play in the fields of my imagination. Characters sprang up like mushrooms after the rain. I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning to see what I thought and who was going to embody it. Eventually I found I had four heroines, born in different decades, and that they were all mothers and daughters.

But caring, unlike knowledge, cannot be acquired at second hand. Knowledge gives writing authority—I cannot dispute that—but caring gives writing life. , white) should not impersonate, in writing, minority characters. It was an act of appropriation. In one respect, I could see the justice of it, that the way would be cleared for writers from minorities to speak in their own voice. In another, I could see that it struck at the fundamental nature of writing. By raising "write what you know (and only what you know)" to a formal impera-tive, the imaginative projection of experience unalike one's own—experience not known but imagined—was denied.

Not true. No one but a blockhead ever wrote except for love. There are plenty of easier ways to make money. Almost anything is less labor-intensive and better paid than writing. Almost anything is safer. Reveal yourself on the page repeatedly, and you are likely to be rewarded with exile, prison or neglect. Ask Dante or Oscar Wilde or Emily Dickinson. Scheme and betray, and you are likely to be rewarded with wealth, publicity and homage. Tell the truth, and you are likely to be a pariah within your family, a semi-criminal to authorities and damned with faint praise by your peers.

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A Reference Grammar of Maithili (Trends in Linguistics: Documentation) by Ramawatar Yadav


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