New writers are often urged to write what they know. The suggestion, of course, is that you shouldn’t start with writing about the foibles of 18th-century French aristocracy if you grew up on a farm in North Dakota. This is good advice, though if we never wrote anything but what we knew for sure, we’d be writing nothing but blogs about what we had for dinner. The great strength of writing what we know is that it can shed light on the universal truths that thread through the lives of farmhands and princes alike.
But if one purpose of writing is to create a window into what a writer knows to be true, surely writing is also a way to investigate the void together. The great unknowns of human life have been the subject of art since humans first listened to the hum of the universe and drew symbols on cave walls. In this issue of Slice, the stories resonate with human mysteries—great and small. We don’t understand why parents leave their children. We can’t fully grasp the twisting shapes of desire. We can’t figure out how to reconcile our past with our present. We can’t comprehend the minds of our lovers. We don’t know how to make sense of life’s tragedies.
Many of this issue’s wordsmiths have created art from what they don’t know. We hope you’ll dive into the void.