For many years I’ve had a fierce love for fiction and its ability to touch upon the very themes and ideas which haunt our lives and disturb our sleep.
But despite my obsession with literature, the relationship between me and my writing has often been tumultuous, even somewhat abusive. It seems that no matter how hard I try to fulfil a story, the writing is never satisfied. I wrestle with the phrasing and push aside the superfluous metaphors, trying to grasp at the unknown element below the surface as I spit words like machinegun rounds.
As writers, we’re addicted to this constant battle.
I sit inside my cage of language, trying to catch at the ideas which flutter around me, always so close and yet so far. Just when I feel like giving up, the piece grabs at me once more. When the story proves to be defective, I tear out the pages it is written on and scrunch them up into a ball, letting my cat bat them around on the floor.
It’s a symbolic act.
My way of saying I’m through with it.
But in the end I never really leave it behind. Whenever I’m out or doing something else, it shows a kind of jealousy and teases me with glimpses of something I desperately want to capture. Maybe that’s why I always carry a pen and paper with me.
I feel disarmed without them.
Perhaps, as writers, we are sentenced to this perpetual longing to write. There’s a powerful attraction in writing’s ability to tap into those things which remain hidden throughout everyday life. They emerge in the form of a story and reveal something as strange and complex as the human being itself.
Fiction gives an impression of the world, ours or another, from the eyes of an author who haunts the pages like an ethereal presence. It startles and amazes us, it both reminds and defamiliarises, and it’s something that we can relate our life to or vice versa. It can be a cathartic exercise or a recollection of experiences or the product of a subconscious ready to spill over. It can force open a window through which our desires can freely pass, disguised in the lives of fictional characters.
The processes of reading and writing are wonderfully complex. As a result, it has made it rather difficult to explain what it is I’m really doing while I’m writing.
The best I can do is tell you what it feels like.
For a writer, writing is a life sentence. We’re trapped with the desire to write like the parameters of a dysfunctional relationship; I can’t just walk away from it. At the same time, writing offers us a sense of freedom unlike any other: the feeling of having no control as the words spill out from under my pen, the way the story takes on a life of its own, the excitement and terror of the ride, and the unknown destination waiting at the end.
It is fiction’s ability to shatter our sense of disconnection which feeds our addiction, allowing us to feel each other in the most alarming and intimate ways. The act of creation is both power and vulnerability. We are literally tearing down the walls of our isolation and revelling in our first taste of complete freedom.