Writing to avoid writing…
I’m in my study, trying to swing my complete focus to moving forward with the second novel in my series exploring the life of Katherine of Aragon. But I find myself avoiding the mountain climb I must first climb to complete this novel. William Styron once said: “While it may be satisfying and advantageous for historians to feast on rich archival material, the writer of historical fiction is better off when past events have left him with short rations” (2010, p. 428). I believe Styron makes a valid and important point about historical fiction writers being better off writing their stories by the use of ‘short rations’, and this is also relevant to all fiction writers.
I really enjoy research, happily spending far too much of my time going in so many directions that I start to forget what had started my latest research odyssey. I tell myself I’m getting ready to write, but the day arrives when I have to ask myself whether I am really researching or procrastinating – avoiding that moment when I must give myself completely over to my imagination and create.
Fiction writers imagine. As long as we are willing to tap into our own lives, go deep beneath our own skins, submit ourselves to imagination and the art of storytelling, we set ourselves up to write fiction. We don’t really need to seek out every bit of material and knowledge available to us. Writing a novel or a film script is all about building a story from ground zero.
Submission, utter, utter submission – that’s what I need to do to write fiction. To write fiction, I need to submit to a deeper level of creativity where my brain functions on more than one level. Like Anne Bernays (2000) tells us, “You must be able to step inside your character’s skin and at the same time to remain outside the dicey circumstances you have maneuvered her into.”
Our lives can be changed and empowered through all manners of writing. But, for me, fiction writing really opens up the possibility of a roller coast ride to personal growth, of adventure and discovery. It allows me to peel off the onionskin of imposed meaning until I come closer to the inner heart of my own truth.
I long ago gave my creative passion to the art of fiction writing. That’s because by writing fiction my own well of humanity deepens, gushing more and more as I write, allowing me to understand myself and my world. When I write, I dive into my psyche, bringing back the pearls, the nourishment that makes me richer and far more complete and, I hope with all my heart, others, too.
Back to writing novel two of Falling Pomegranate Seeds.
BERNAYS, A 2000, ‘Pupils Glimpse an Idea, Teacher Gets a Gold Star ‘, WRITERS ON WRITING, 28 February, viewed 13 September 2016, < http://partners.nytimes.com/library/books/022800bernays-writing.html >.
Styron, William, 2010. The Confessions of Nat Turner, Kindle edition: Open Road.