Tag Archives: Creative writing

Challenge ‘Literature’ – Write in the Margin

Perhaps one of the most important lessons I think you can learn as a writer isn’t one of technique, or how to come up with ideas. It’s something more subtle, but it affects how you approach writing, and how you feel about it.

Chances are, if you are a writer, or reading this, you love books. For some reason or another, you love books. Bound in leather, paperback or hardback, perhaps even an ebook. You have an appreciation for the written word. The worst thing then, is to be in awe of it. I’ll explain.

I’m a writer, and studying English Literature. I scribble in the books I read. I underline things. I write in the margins, and make notes inside the text itself. Other students give me strange looks. They don’t want to make a mark in the books. Some wish to sell the books on once they’re done. Others, for lack of a better word, think it’s sacrilegious. If you respect a book, if you love literature, you revere it by keeping it free of marks. You don’t write in it, you don’t bend the spine back, you don’t fold pages back. You try and keep it pristine.

However, I think this only creates a barrier between you and books. You can end up making the written word become something sacred. And as such, you unconsciously see it as something untouchable, and unobtainable because you won’t mark a book. Scribbling in margins de-privileges literature. Instead of having a work and solely bears the author’s words, you place your own voice in it. You end up demonstrating that your voice has a place in the bound text, that you have an legitimate right to comment upon it. It is no longer untouchable.

This is important when most fears about writing centre around your writing not being up to par, that your writing is not worth reading.  Writing in a published book breaks down the barrier, the idea that what’s in print cannot be challenged, and what isn’t in print is worth nothing. It challenges your thoughts about literature. It’s no longer authoritative. What’s bound doesn’t dictate how literature can be. You’re free to challenge it.

Advertisements

Ideas – They Don’t Just Pop Into Your Head

I’d say the greatest challenge for a writer is quite a simple on actually. It’s not writing well, or getting published. Even at a push, I’d say it’s not about staying motivated either. It’s having lots of ideas.

When we think about writing, we have this notion that ideas are the one thing you can’t change. Either you have a good idea or you don’t, either you can think up of many ideas or you can’t. It’s a bit of a naive attitude though, because it relies on the fact that ideas for writing simply stroll into our heads, that we have sudden moments of creative genius that happen outside of our control. It’s sensationalist, and encouraged because of its appeal, but it doesn’t do much good in reality.

If a writer were to say the idea for their entire book just walked fully formed into their head, I’d tell them to stop being overly dramatic. What are ideas? They’re by no means so tidy or obedient even. When you pause to break it down, the idea for a work is more of a single one, a stub, a starting point. One idea might be something very simple, and as you think about it, you come up with more. Whenever I write, I start with a small idea in mind. It’s my goal for what I’m going to do. Then as I continue, I get more ideas the more I think. I don’t just sit there waiting for inspiration to hit me, I ask myself questions about the idea I’ve had. Sometimes I get answers. Sometimes I don’t. But it creates more ideas for you to play with, rather than struggling with just one.

In reality, a story is an amalgamation of many ideas. One idea starts the process off, but then others join it. Some contradict each other, and some turn the story away from your original idea. But as you ask yourself questions, you build up a single, cohesive story. It’s like building a rubber band ball. You start with the first one, and as you add more the ball takes shape, until all those rubber bands behave like a single ball, rather than a pile of them.

So, you can think creatively by asking yourself questions. That’s a start, but it’s still limited in boosting your imagination. I’m not going to launch into a long paragraph about reading other books, because that’s a stock response. I’d say, read a selection of books. Ones that interest you, ones that you know nothing about. Even ones you think you won’t like. Don’t stop with contemporary fiction, but go back in time. Have a dig. Don’t limit yourself to fiction, but look at non-fiction. History is a very good place to come up with ideas, as you ask “what if” questions as you read. What if Rome didn’t fall? You can have some fun with that. Even then, I’d encourage brave writers to read philosophy. Stories will give you ideas for events, and philosophy will give you understanding of different modes of thought, which means, better characterisation.

Life experience is a great asset too. You know how looking back at your past work is almost always something that makes you cringe? That’s greater experience talking. How can you make your work better? By going out and living. Gain experiences, don’t just slave away at the keyboard. You can draw inspiration from the experiences you’ve had yourself, and the great thing about this is that it is free, and it’s going on all the time. If you can travel, then do, but if you can’t try to experience other cultures. Books, encyclopaedias, TV, these will all give you experience.

Ideas aren’t just a solitary affair. Have willing volunteers read your work. Discuss ideas. It’s always good to have friends that are writers for this purpose, and even better if you have a mentor. So in short, there are things you can do to have more ideas. It isn’t just about creativity on its own, because it is extremely hard to pull something from nothing, even if it is in your head. Experimentation is key, and you must not limit yourself by sticking to only what you like.

My question is how do you come up with ideas? Do you struggle, or do you have too many?

Turning My Back on Writing as a Career – Does This Make Me Less of a Writer?

I wonder, does it make me any less of a writer now that I don’t pursue writing as a career? It’s been at the back of my mind. Does it make me a lesser one, because I’m not saying I want to solely make money out of writing? Or do other writers, published or aiming to be, consider it to be giving up?

I used to say I wanted to become a published author, and make a career out of my writing. The first statement is true still, but the latter has been removed. The reasoning isn’t that I’ve become disillusioned in my work. I’m more confident about that than I ever was. I decided against writing as a career for practical reasons.

I never entertained the idea that I’d be able to make a living out of writing. Not out of any pessimistic thought, but just realism. A career in writing for me would be writing books; anything other form of writing, say journalism, isn’t what writing means to me. Of course, if you do that you don’t have much security at all. If you self-publish, you’ve got to be the one promoting your book, demanding that you both sink more money into your book while promising anything but a return, let alone one that is consistent. If you aim down the road of traditional publishing, you’ve first got to be accepted, and then hopefully get a decent advance. It’s just a lump sum, and if you want more money, you’ve either got to sell more than they first calculated for you advance, or write a new book and get that accepted too. Then you’ve got to write more. Lots more.

Talk about having a secure income; you’ve got anything but that. Practical reasons aside and before you start accusing me of selling out, the main issue is my own idea of being a writer. I don’t want to end up having to churn out books in order to sell. It makes a mockery of writing in the first place. What could be more soul-destroying than feeling you are devaluing your writing by having to write so many books out of financial necessity. I must say, I don’t know whether that would cause the quality to suffer. There’s nothing like pressure to spring up some new ideas, but I don’t want to try. I feel like I’d be goading myself, that eventually during it I’d just stop one day, realising I’ve come to hate writing because of it. Where would I go from there?

I think these are the questions you’ve really got to ask yourself about writing. I’m not cutting the career idea because I don’t think I’d make it, or that I’m discouraged by how difficult it is.

I just thought, this isn’t for me. This isn’t how I want to be a writer.

So what does that mean? The plan isn’t one I hate. I’ll get a job. Do something during the day that pays a wage, then I’ll write. You can always find time for the things you enjoy doing. Yet to come back to the question I started with, does this make me less of a writer? Go on, let me know what you think!

Flash Fiction: The Cusp

The flame was brief – an orange streak, naked, guarded by closed hands. In the dark it would take a while to see again. It instead left all the more time to remember the brief sight, a glimpse of a taut jaw, a creased brow . There were eyes in the glimpse, but the light was just lost in them.

Smoke caught in my nose, exhaled every time the cigarette glowed brightly. It used to make me cough, but time has worn me down. We stood there in silence – he smoked to give his hands something to do as the wait drew on. Without light, time was unknown. A minute or ten of them, thirty perhaps? I don’t care – it leaves only the moment.

I press my hand against the pistol in my breast pocket, the weight of it reassuring as my heart thumps against it.

“They’re late.”

I get a grunt of a reply in turn. Obviously they’re late. He doesn’t want me here – he doesn’t want to mind me. He always worked on his own, but everyone said I needed to learn somehow.

You have to learn in the field. It doesn’t do to just be told.

He shoves his hand roughly against my chest. Cigarette? I shake my head – I know he’s doing the same.

“Kid like you should smoke.”

I hold silence. He said it would settle the nerves.

What am I doing here? It’s a thought begrudged. The lecture theatre was stuffy. Dry, with the dulcet warble of academics and everyone walked about with no consideration – bodies were just mounts for brains. Nothing missed – you die and what is there to show for it? Nothing, all is to dust. It all means nothing. It only means a thrill. Doing this, you can get lost in the moment. A wild moment. When everything is falling apart around you it’s fun to throw your arms up.

Here I am, waiting in darkness – not just the night but not in my head too. I don’t know what’s going to happen. This isn’t safe. I love it.

Two beams glare over the hill. My partner hisses – unsubtle of them, but there is no light to see. The truck rumbles to a halt and points its headlights at us.

“Wait here.”

Of course, he knows. What other play is there though? This is wrong. All wrong. The lights should be off. They should be closer. We both know – and can do nothing.

I hear the gunshot before the trigger is pulled. He’s dead, spread over the ground. His light glows for a moment, then the speck dims. No fuss, nothing poetic about that – a little puff of smoke for a last breath.

I run. Run on. Run away from a car? They must be leaving me. Didn’t expect there to be two. He probably garbled to them I was a rookie – useless at that. He might be a crook, but I wouldn’t hold that against him. Sad, I never did know his name. I’ll remember him for the cigarettes then. Someone has to remember him.

I knew better to run back to the car. They’d have taken care of that. I don’t need to return to the others – they’ll know it went up by now. No one works strictly on ceremony. There’s no loose end to tie up here. I’m an end with no weight. I want to throw my arms up as I run, so I do. The still air feels soft between my fingers. It’s easy to run at night too, the air is so cool. I could almost forget it was my life I was running for.

I can feel the bullets whiz through the air next to me. I want to laugh. I try not to. It comes out as a muffled guffaw. I should feel fear. I think I do; there’s some sort of worry churning in my stomach. But the thrill overrides everything else.

I should worry about this. I shouldn’t be enjoying this. But I know I’m alive now, I can feel it in the fine space between the two. I wonder if there’s some revelation to come? I feel on the cusp-

The name doesn’t stand out in the column, it just blends in with all the other characters on the page. Indistinct. Eyes pass over it, but it means nothing. His name is just that of a stranger.

“… died of gunshot wounds, outside St. Louis in the early hours of Saturday morning.”

There were a few comments.

“… bright… promising in studies. Taking a degree at St. Louis University. Tragically killed in the crossfire.”

06/12/1925.

Do Writers Alienate Themselves?

Yes, do writers alienate themselves? Let’s think. I opened up a post. It was one of the much discussed “why do you write” posts which all writing blogs ask. It’s obligatory, like some sort of blogging coming of age ritual for anyone calling themselves an author here. Now, looking at the responses, I just wanted to cringe. Honestly. The general gist of it was the usual – that writing is a hobby, that they enjoy creating characters, telling stories and the like. That’s fine, that does nothing. What struck me though were the comments that talked about writing in a frankly unrealistic way.

That writing is a ‘calling’ that cannot be ignored.

Really? A slight exaggeration.

Writing being some sort of necessity in life that one cannot do without.

Oh come on, it’s no essential process required to sustain life.

Writers would rather lose limbs than not be able to equate concepts to words.

We’re getting into the more ridiculous responses here.

That writer’s view the world from heights, and that they write in order to breathe.

I’ll deploy my absolute favourite all-time quote that for me sums up both the vanity and stupidity writers can conjure up.

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world – Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Dream on Percy, dream on.

Please – but the best is yet to come.

People who criticize and belittle our “hobby” simply fear our independence. They are jealous of our ability to break away from the mould that so obviously ensnares them.

I’m not making this up. I’ve been watching posts like these, cringing and wanting to further distance myself from being identified as a writer. Let’s take a time out here. It’s fine to be passionate about your hobby. Really. I admit that some days I feel like I’ve wasted time if I haven’t written anything. Some days I feel like something was missing if I didn’t write. But I’ve also had many days where I’ve written nothing and felt nothing of it. There are days where I cannot care to write even a single word. That’s the reality of it – and every writer will be the same. We have a lot of days where it just feelings like struggling neck high up in mud. Still, I just laugh at life and continue – it’s no matter. You take each day as it comes.

I mean, come on. Writer’s having to write out of some sort of necessity? That’s peeling back the hyperbole. At the end of the day, I think this just makes writers sound deluded and vain. I think the whole issue is that the entity that is “writing” has a huge inferiority complex hanging over it. The fear is that at the end of the day, someone could call a writer out on doing something useless. Writing is after all fiction – it is logically useless. So the response is to come up with such reasons like the ones above in order to raise writing above what it is and to some sort of divine level. In reality, storytelling is just telling stories – and we really shouldn’t hide from that. People like stories, so that’s good enough reason to write them. Simple. Besides, the strength of passion that conjures up such quotes means that such individuals get enough enjoyment out of it to continue despite what others might say.

But here is the question I am asking you: what happens when someone who isn’t a writer reads this sort of thing? It all  just sounds so very ludicrous. Inane. Utterly deluded. At the end of the day, what is writing, really? Just telling a story – which anyone can do and learn to do better. My fear is that it does nothing to help writers. It just makes them sound like they are wasting time writing fiction. I think it puts of people who aren’t writers, discourages those who are learning, and makes writers sound like a bunch of overly-dramatic want-to-be Shakepeares.

So, if you are a writer, I want to hear your thoughts on this matter. If you are inclined to think such lofty things about writing, I want to hear from you too.

What Do Your Characters Mean – Is It Ever Possible To Remain Aloof?

When writing, I’ve seen a general trend when it comes to characters and how their authors are meant to engage with them. Keeping it general, the attitudes seem to follow two distinct trends. On one hand writers are encouraged to care about their characters – to have some sort of bond with them, or that the characters are meant to be based in part upon their creator. On the other, the writer is meant to remain distant and impersonal towards his or her characters, and to sacrifice them to plot progression rather than shield them due to sentimentality. From this perspective, to do anything else would seem to suggest a dreaded Mary-Sue!

Yet as the title says, my question is can an author ever remain aloof about their characters? Is that a reasonable demand?

I have mixed feelings over this – I seem to be stuck as some sort of hybrid between the two. On the one hand, my first and foremost intention is to write a good story, and that inevitably means sacrificing characters so that the plot remains gripping, and thus not watered-down. Yet, as I write, as the words go down on paper, I find it hard to stick to that goal. Sometimes I end up rooting for certain characters as I write. It can be for a number of reasons. I might enjoy writing from their perspective. I might want them to succeed in their goals. I might even feel a bit sad when I do the deed – and set their fate.

It’s hard to ignore that as you write, you get attached to your characters. Perhaps for varying reasons, but in the end you have some sort of subtle bond with each character you create. You wouldn’t end up writing about that character at any length if you didn’t. I think this is due to two reasons.

First, that writers are limited in how much they can distance themselves from a character. It might be possible to consciously differentiate the author from the character when writing, but subconsciously? In the end, the character’s perspective is in fact the author’s perspective that has gone through various forms of moderation. If the author were to write a character that was a reader, the reader would not be a distinct “reader” character that is independent of the author. Instead, the “reader” is the author’s idea of reading – the character is the author’s reader, not just a reader. As such, each character is more the author’s interpretation of that character type than an actual distinct individual.

Secondly, as you write you get attached to characters. Let’s admit it. We’ve all had characters that we’ve enjoyed writing about – they’re those special few that transgress across being simply fictional characters. They in fact become more than characters; in some way we start to think of them as real people. It’s the same effect we have when reading – we treat the characters we read about as real. In the same way, we treat the characters we write about as real too. It comes from having to write about them. We have to think as them. We have to write as they would speak – we end up going through their adventures as they are created. Just by virtue of writing, we get attached to them.

The question I want to ask you all is do you remain aloof about your characters? Do you think you must remain impassive about them, or that it’s healthy to have some sort of attachment to them? Finally, is it acceptable for an author to have characters that are in part based upon themselves? Let’s hear your thoughts!

Escapism, Reality and Writing – Why Do We Create To Escape?

At the face of it, writing creatively is a purely self-destructive activity. Of all the things to spend your time, you choose to write on fictitious events, worry over imaginary characters and work to create the unreal. All when today, we retain the idea that we should do things of relevance, and that concept of what makes something worthwhile is intrinsically tied to a grounding in reality. In short, it is seen as productive to have a hobby that has some benefit to you in reality.

Here’s a hobby of mine. Rock Climbing. A good way to exercise; so it would seem. The practice of heaving yourself up vertical surfaces. Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? Yet even now when we’ve long passed over the hunter-gatherer stage of human development when this kind of skill would have been relevant, we still view it with an air of justification. Instead of using it to heave yourself up or down steep terrain to get to food others might not be able to access, it’s good exercise. It has a benefit to the body. Exercise releases endorphins, which make you happy. A happy citizen, a happy worker, a more productive worker. So, that’s fine, go climb those walls.

Yet writing? Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. It’s just daydreaming. It’s just imaginary nonsense. Haven’t we grown up and learnt to focus on what’s real, instead of inventing things? Yes, oh dear. It’s a tenuous position, sitting and dealing with imaginary people, treating them as if they were real. We’re adults now, not children, we must focus our minds in the real world, upon all that is real and nothing else. Why is that? Because we’re meant to ‘grow up’, a concept that involves expunging childish practices from us in order to become a rational adult. With that in mind, the following paragraph will sound mad.

I spent several hours today inside my head, thinking about a world I created. I wasn’t just thinking about characters, I was imagining myself as them. I thought as them, felt as them.

Sounds like a mental problem, doesn’t it? Especially if you know the characters I write about.

It’s worrying when you break out of the daydream, blink, and realise for a split second, you were thinking and feeling like that character.

Really, writing in first person present screws with my mind at least. Not that I was complaining. Oh, take that society!

In short, this is why I opened by saying writing is self-destructive. Perhaps we spend our time inside our heads too much, imagining an escapist world like a child does, instead of being a good little worker and getting on with our lot in this world. Or rather, instead of learning to cope with the world itself, coping by proxy.

But hey, I don’t actually believe that at all. I wouldn’t say writing is self-destructive. But why did I just lead you on that tangent? I had to explain that in order for you to understand the next idea. Well, there’s a refuge in the word ‘writer’. The practice of writing is a refuge for imaginative process that would have been culled around the time you go to secondary school. That begins when you’re 13 if I remember correctly. Think back in your education. When did the emphasis on creativity and imaginative practice go? When instead of writing a story in English you had to start writing essays? When did they focus shift onto getting good grades for oh, that seemingly distant job? See, it’s an implicit part in the practice of ‘growing up’. The imaginative gets sidelined for the practical. Creativity is preserved only if it can serve an economic purpose. Learning suffers the same as well. Cram your head with the facts to pass the exams. Who cares if it’s something you want to learn about.

Creative problem solving. That’s useful, it means you’ll be a good worker that can better deal with unforeseen problems. What about being a writer? You’re using the imagination to write stories that sell. That’s the refuge. So all day, I’m not potentially wasting time indulging a denial of reality. No, I’m working to create a product. The thing is, unless writing can justify itself by selling, creativity for creativity’s sake alone is cast of as void. It becomes a nice thing for children to do. Paint a picture, write a story. How many artists and writers have we lost because they never thought to keep their creativity into adulthood? I look around at the people I know here at university. Of the English students, how many that say they are writers are? Few. Precious few. They’re here for inspiration. They’re here to learn how to write. Perhaps. But how many go of and write? Of them, who writes regularly? Who is really working on that book, and not just stuck in some limbo falsely labelled as work in progress?

Let’s say I haven’t found one yet. None isn’t a word I want to hear, but that’s another topic.

The continued existence of the refuge of writing presents a strange idea though, and why do I label it’s existence down to consumerism?

Well, it exists because it’s a balm, a slave for all the dreary existence we find ourselves trudging through. Working 9am to 5pm, seeing the same sights, living a life of routine without any change. It creates a craving for adventure. In all ways, all stories tell one. Whether it is as literal as that doesn’t matter. There are changes. There is excitement. It is novel. Buy a book, or better yet, write one and you can create your own adventure, with all the security of the current existence intact. I don’t doubt that anyone will ever be truly content with their lives. We can always find something more we want. Perhaps loosing yourself in a wood full of elves helps. Perhaps not. But the need for this alternate reality still exists, and it is a healthy one.

The question is, why do you start writing (if you are a writer) and if not, what do you think about creative endeavours? Do you indulge in escapism?

Flash Fiction: Memory

I’m certain I’ll be dead by the time anyone else reads this. So dear reader, you’re talking to a ghost and I might just be haunting you. What words do the dead have for the living? Ha! What is there to say? I cannot offer you any comfort.

In life I had a name. Many people once had the same name before me. Many since have borne it too. It was just a sign, a way to differentiate one from another, never to describe who I was. I had two lives see. One was before the fall, the other was after. What I would have given to be one of the lucky ones, to have lived on the other side. I played well, but the end is as certain as the beginning.

My bones shine ivory white, picked clean. I am no use; no longer carrion. My memorial is nothing to time immemorial.

I have no tongue with which to speak; the worms took that from me ages ago. Life is not comforting; we learnt that in the fall. In truth, the only thing that changed was a rent in the veil. A rip cut a swathe through it, and the comfortable lie broke.

I remember once that our rational minds were the prize of our evolution; but hollow crowns for a world that never knelt.

I look back on moments of fondness. I feel a mix of laughter and disdain. I only care for a drink.

Might I be stronger, or could hunt better, or survive longer? I ask the birds, but they laugh. They won’t tell where the water is. Why would I need to question the world? My knowledge won’t feed me. I have no clever tools. Mechanics has broken and deserted.

Faced with my death. I write these few lines. Musing about existence. Trying to convince my parched lips that my reason is a gift. In these moments, I lament. For what use is this?

I let life slip between my fingers like grains of sand. My hourglass has run short. I cannot turn it over. What speaks more of my wretched futility, than spending these last moments scrawling in the sand.

Continue reading Flash Fiction: Memory

The Point of Words

I’m quite a cynic when it comes to popular ideas about literature and being a writer. Such ideas are mainly ones that tend to write an unrealistic cheque about the importance of writing and other such topics. In essence, if it paints a picture of writing that casts it as some important activity, I’ll question that.

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world – Percy Bysshe Shelley.

For me, this exemplifies the over-zealous and grandiose claims writers can make about their own importance. I don’t think it requires much explanation.

However there is an importance to writing that should be acknowledged and it’s not so straightforward. It has nothing to do with writers having some vital importance in society or the stories they tell, but simply their ability to be perceptive to the intricacies of words and how they interact with each other. In short, the main skill of the ‘writer’ is being able to select, arrange and order words in order to as accurately as possible to convey a message or rouse a desired response. It sounds rather banal, but it’s actually more important than you might think. Recently I’ve been involved with working on a film project at university with bioscience students, and it’s been my job to use my skills with language to convey what they want to say as accurately as possible. Sometimes it was small things like cutting down words and refining scripts, to more subtle things like choosing the correct verbs, arranging the syntax and grammar in the way that will best emphasise what they want to convey. In essence, it is editing – but it takes language and brings it into a state that is smooth but concise enough to emphasise a message.

This is a skill that I think is under-acknowledged. Having a good command of language is one thing, but an understanding of how to manipulate it to accomplish varying goals is quite another. Communicating well is not using a lot of long words and using lots of commas, but having short, sweet sentences that can be the equivalent of large swathes of text.

Therefore as writers, we should not just limit the well known ‘show not tell’ mantra to writing stories, but apply its essence to less creative pursuits. When should we try to show in language and when should we tell? When you are told to use ‘strong writing’ this doesn’t just apply to your novel. It also comes into all other applications of language. What we learn at first for creative endeavours are then skills we can then apply to other situations that demand language use.

 

Making ‘Fiction’ Fiction.

When you stop and think about it, writing is actually quite a silly thing to pursue. It’s down to logic. Why write about something that isn’t real? Or even better, why continue to agonise over something imaginary? If we measure our behaviour towards productivity, then writing is something that doesn’t fit. To be purely logical, why should anyone spend time that could otherwise be spent on facilitating some sort of material gain? Is there any value we can actually place on stories apart from emotional ones? It’s hard to find an answer. Financial inventive might work, but its rare to find any author who began writing for financial gain. It further collapses when you realise stories only sell because people invest emotionally in them. Quite simply, people buy stories because they like them.

As we grow up, we’re increasingly exposed to pressure that determines what we should and shouldn’t do. As such, the focus on imagination and unrealities dies off in favour of logic and reality. It’s why English classes go from having exercises in creative writing to writing analytical essays about works of literature. ‘Literature’ itself rarely includes any works of fantasy or science fiction. Those are populist, low-brow, sensationalist and therefore not high-brow. The irony is that many ‘classic’ works of ‘literature’ actually were criticised in their times for those same perceived faults. We only have to look back so far as to Modernism to understand that novels in themselves were criticised for lacking intellectual weight. The result is that even within the literary world, writing both struggles to and rigorously attempts to justify itself. There still is no answer.

Why is it then some of us continue to imagine the unreal, and therefore write?

This isn’t a post about defending writing, or trying to legitimate the process. Quite the opposite, I believe writing actually suffers from trying to legitimate itself and justify its place in society. The question shouldn’t be why you are you dreaming, but in fact asking those who asks such questions why they don’t dream. Imagination is key to being a good writer, so you shouldn’t try and legitimate your writing by neglecting it. Quite simply, this means where you should write where your imagination first takes you, and not where your head takes you to. As such, perhaps writers should not focus on writing fiction about our current reality, but instead write fiction that is truly fictitious. That is, it is not set in our reality, in our time. Instead, it dares to be imaginative, to deal in created worlds, rather than based on the one we’re already writing in.  In this way, you make ‘fiction’ fiction.