May 30, 2015 · 4:39 pm
The place my writing comes from inside me is dead right now. Probably not permanently, but dead for now.
I’ve always thought of writing – and reading – as a kind of escape from reality. I’ve blogged about this more than once. There’s a contrary theory of literature that says the good stuff comes from the bad experiences – the emotional turmoil – the realization that reality actually is incredibly ugly.
This theory may be right, but I don’t have enough distance from the ugliness to put it in words yet. Maybe I never will. And I know the joy in the escape from reality will come again – I still feel it pulse inside me – but I can’t create any escapes on my own at the moment.
Time will show how life experiences has changed me, and, in turn, how it has changed my writing. But for now – this is the reason my blog is neglected. This is the reason I haven’t posted for months.
I look forward to the day I rejoin the writing world.
January 16, 2015 · 3:30 pm
A quick thought for today:
Writers write what’s real. They try to connect with some reality in the readers’ experience, and inspire emotions that complement the work they write. They try to represent the world as it truly is. That is one theory of writing’s purpose, anyway.
The problem is, reality really bites.
I wanted to improve as a writer this year. I gritted my teeth and tried to dredge up something of reality – bad experiences as well as good (though I’d be the first to admit my own real problems may barely phase anyone else.) I wrote down some stuff that for me was ‘dark.’
Then a lot of awful stuff happened in the world (some of which is obviously in the news, and some of which is just learning things about people you never wanted to know.) Then my ability to capture the true darkness in words falls so far short.
Because it’s so hard for me to face the depths of darkness. And I don’t want to do it.
Some writers can – dive into the depths of evil and show it for what it is to the world. And this is important. But is it what I – who shrinks from true evil and know its true strength is far beyond my own- am meant to do?
Then I escaped into the movie Casablanca – a fictional world which pretends to represent reality but in actuality stereotypes and simplifies it – and was drawn in. The story took me away. It ended on hope.
And now I believe there can be two types of creators/writers – those who don’t flinch from portraying problems and showing the ugliness of reality. And those writers who help escape from reality, and use fiction to remind us what it’s like to hope.
In real life, Harry Potter may’ve never escaped his cupboard. He may’ve been abused his whole young life, or been so psychologically scarred he could never function in any world. Frodo might’ve never gotten out of Mordor. Elizabeth Bennet would’ve end up penniless and husbandless, dependent on the mercy of Mr. Collins in her old age.
But, instead, these stories provide hope and escape, and show me a way to touch on reality without giving into the full terribleness of it.
What do you think?
October 26, 2011 · 7:59 pm
I thought I’d run out of quotes, until it occurred to me to look up authors I like and see what they say about writing. So – voila! – here is Tolkien, nicely following up on Oscar Wilde’s thoughts on real life in literature:
I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. In what the misusers are fond of calling Real Life, Escape is evidently as a rule very practical, and may even be heroic. In real life it is difficult to blame it, unless it fails; in criticism it would seem to be the worse the better it succeeds… Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
– JRR Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories
I would never say escape is always good. Sometimes you have to sit up and face reality. All the same, when I read a book, I very rarely want to know about how miserable life is. I’ve figured that out already, thanks. I want a story about something better.