Mirrors and Doors with Patricia Ann McNair

An Authors Talk

Patricia Ann McNair

“Reading to relate is like looking in a mirror; I want to walk through a door.”

In this insightful Authors Talk, Patricia Ann McNair delves into the idea — and issue — of readers and writers only finding value in work they can relate to.

Many times she has heard the phrase, “I can’t relate,” from students and peers in regards to stories. As readers, it can be easy for us to become uncomfortable when confronted with stories that we cannot relate to and we cannot understand, but Patricia argues that it is exactly these stories we need to be reading.

When we read only stories we can understand, we are simply looking in a mirror; but, when we read stories that do not resemble our own, we are shown through an open door into a world we never would have encountered before.

“Write what you don’t know….”

Listen to her full Authors Talk below.

Check out Patricia’s newest work, Responsible Adults, coming out in December of 2020 (Cornerstone Press).

Learn more about Patricia here.

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7 thoughts on “Mirrors and Doors with Patricia Ann McNair

  • September 25, 2020 at 9:22 am

    I really love this train of thought that we should be reading books that differ from ourselves. I feel that the some of the books that have made me think the most are books in which the protagonist does things or thinks things that I would never consider. It definitely puts you into shoes you wouldn’t be in otherwise and allows you to think in new and different ways.

  • September 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    I like the chance to hear what an author has to say about writing and reading, especially when finding a way to make a meaningful connection to it. The use of referring to reading as a “mirror” or a “door” is a beautiful way to explain it and I agree that reading about things that are new or different is incredibly important because only then can we have a chance to expand ourselves.

  • September 28, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    I appreciate hearing an author speaking in opposition to the “write what you know” advice. That always made me feel useless as a writer- as a writer, I feel that I know nothing new to contribute. As a reader, I love learning new things. That divide always made me hesitant to write, as I felt I had nothing new to teach others. Now, I appreciate hearing “write what you don’t know, and learn along the way.”

  • February 9, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    I think this is where I fail as a reader, because we all need to experience things we never have, and learn things that only other people have learned. How else can we grow from ourselves and be empathetic with others?

    • February 11, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      This is a wonderful question to ponder. I think that doing as Patricia says and reading more stories with diverse experiences, where we may not initially relate to the premises, can help to broad our horizons and help get us to a place where we can grow on our own and be more empathetic towards others.

  • February 12, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    The commentary that Patricia Ann McNair has on relatability in literature is something I’ve never considered before. I agree with her, that there is perhaps some inherent dismissiveness if we as readers can’t relate to a core element of what we’re reading. Fascinating talk!

    • February 13, 2021 at 10:20 pm

      Patricia really explains this concept well. Relate ability to the core element is such an interesting thing to consider and contemplate in writing. We’re so glad you enjoyed as well!

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