Inside a Writer's Mind

Inside a Writer's Mind
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Why I Write Fiction: Short Stories and Novels

For years I tried to ignore the need to write, but it kept creeping back into my life like a stray dog that won't take no for an answer. What motivated me?  Really...? It was more than a desire to express myself. (Important as that is.)

I couldn't really understand it.

You see growing up I was never much of a reader. At least not in the traditional sense. Rather than read novels or short stories (I think I was in year six or seven before I read a novel, and then didn't read another one until senior high school--and not one from the prescribed reading list).

What I loved to read were quotations and axioms. Looking back, I think what I was seeking were other ways of seeing the world: reassurance, insights and understanding that I couldn't find in the people around me. If, as the saying goes, we 'write to be understood', than I guess I read to find the comfort of knowing there were people out there whose experiences, insights and wisdom I understood and could relate to. Or at least wanted to. And it filled a need in me nothing else could (or can, I still collect and carry around quotations).

The other thing I got (and get) from quotations and axioms (and now novels and short stories) is the reassurance that there is more to life than what exists on the physical plane. There is more than earning money, buying things, and living what too often seems a very shallow existence.

I've noticed that many people in their social interactions are primarily concerned with some one's (formal) education, occupation, and earning potential, and collectively this is the agreed social barometer for an individual's worth, well being and happiness. Many assumptions are made based on a person's employment, perceived bank balance, and the quantity and quality of their assets.

Ultimately these things carry all the substance of a fart in the wind.

I read once (I'm paraphrasing because I can't find the original quote--sorry): 'if there is any joy/contentedness to be had in this existence it will come through being and not having.' And, based on my experience, that statement holds true. That's not to say you don't need a certain amount of money and possessions to survive in this world. But not as much or many as society, corporations and the mass media would have us believe. 

There is (or should be) much more to life.

Like: developing and enriching your personal relationships; a sense of spending your days in a way that is meaningful; and sharing your love and positive energy with people and the planet.

Since I stopped teaching full time to concentrate on finishing my novel I’ve been surprised at the negative reactions of many people, based largely on their perceptions of what is a worthwhile and responsible way to spend time.

I've been amazed at the amount of people, some of whom I'd previously thought of as friends, who’ve openly ridiculed my decision to quit full time teaching and pursue writing. Most were only concerned with how I was going to earn the same income tutoring and doing relief as I had full time teaching (I wasn’t). (Teaching in Australia is relatively well paid compared to the USA and UK.)  Few were interested in my reasons for needing to spend time writing, or in the lack of fulfilment and sense of emptiness I'd felt in the last few years I’d spent teaching.

To my way of thinking a friend encourages you to pursue your dreams and follow your heart. They don't stomp on your sand castle before it's even half built.

But the experience has been a valuable one for a number of reasons. It is teaching me several things: most people are scared to give up the illusion of security and pursue their dreams-- to truly live; too many people live desperate lives doing all they can to avoid change and the reality that everything is temporary; and finally, to look for approval is futile--you need to dance to your own drum beat.

Ultimately, I realise, I write to seek understanding, and to try and provide for some one else what I sought and seek in books: the reassurance that I'm not alone, and the knowledge that someone else out there has had a similar experience (or thought or idea or feeling) and that is human.

Keep writing!

No comments:

Post a Comment