Why do we write fiction? There are all sorts of mundane or usual answers to that question–to express ourselves, to tell a story, to entertain, to explore the human condition, to be well-known, to be known well, to be wealthy. But there are other answers that have more to do with the actual moment of creation. It’s perhaps a little more personal and therefore embarrassing or revealing to talk about–or revelatory. It’s the moment when you feel as if you are outside your body yet more intensely inside your body than ever before. It’s the spark, the shock that makes you keep slogging through endless days when all you’re doing is marching through pages and hoping that the rewrites, the editor in you, will salvage the material. Is it simply a matter of allowing the world into you like water poured into an empty glass? Is it a manifestation of something else entirely?
Every detail on the sidewalk, from a rage of red-orange leaves to a green meandering crack in the concrete, took on a binocular significance. It was a forethought of the awareness that overtook him when he wrote: the premonition of something moving through him and onto the page, the pen in hand become a blur and the heart so full, limbs aflame, body with fever. Like sparks burrowing into you until, finally conquered, you become vessel, container not containedtrapped and freeand all the little hairs on your arms rise, and you feel as if your own skin has been painlessly flayed back to reveal, beneath the perfect diagram of veins and arteries, the beauty and horror of the worldthe words like tiny mysteries and the combinations of words solutions to those mysteries, and yet more mysterious for the revelation…
9 comments on “Ecstasy”
I love the thrill of creating something new, taking something bizarre and bringing it to life.
Often i just write. I have no idea what i am going to write but I find it a very therapeutic experience. Most of the time it makes no sense, all i do is start writing and I go where my writing leads. Much of it is un-publishable but that is not the reason i write. I guess it is therapy to me. like long walks, or getting drunk is to other people. Free-form writing is what I call it. sometimes it seems to not come from me but it is like i am channeling it, other times it is a labour, but always it is interesting.
I don’t know. I suspect I’ll never know.
I have always loved creative writing. Maybe, in part, because my father let me sit at his desk and use his typewriter when I was a little kid, or that my mother taught me how to take different passages from the encyclopedia and synthesize them into my own words, and most probably as a means of recreating the unexplainable thrill of reading Poe, Hawthorne, Bradbury, and all the weird-tale-style magazines and comics.
Oh, and what Jeff said, definitely!
Plenty have speculated on the connection between our abilities to weave worlds from, seemingly, nothing, as a connection to Some Grand Story. I’m not sure. I certainly don’t know where or how the inclination occurs; in some people it’s as necessary a compulsion as breathing, eating, sleeping, that sort of thing, while others can hardly imagine that anyone would spend their precious time involved in worlds that don’t really exist.
I tend to think that storytelling, all forms of fiction, is an art that’s ingrained in the DNA of our species, as a way for our oversized brains to cope with the world around us. Even the most alien worlds reflect ours in some ways, and help us to make connections and revive the concepts that have driven us on for so long: love, hatred, charity, greed, sacrifice, selfishness. Not that we ever really get it, but it’s something like a ongoing exploration, with every generation taking on the next stanza, adding their own melodies and harmonies to the song.
Funny — my husband just asked me this question last night — why I write. (He told me I was not allowed to answer that I write to have written, which is the state I prefer; the writing often approaches agony). I tend to write nonfiction rather than fiction, and consider myself to have little in the way of imagination. So I write reviews, essays, criticism, and scholarly work (as well as my day job — legal briefs and the like). Why do I write those things? To share my enthusiasms — to evangelize — as my way of thrusting something I love beneath the nose of another and saying, “Read this!” or “Look at the cool way these things relate to one another!”
I am a wonderful audience. I think that’s truly my role in life I appreciate what other people create. And all of you who tell stories and create art need people like me to love what you do. But I need YOU more, because without you I couldn’t go on for as much as a single day.
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