Tuesday, December 18, 2012
You are who you write
I wrote a short story recently – which will appear for free on www.chronometerpublications.mewithin a week or so. It’s called The Sense of Being Sinbad and deals with the last three months of a man’s life. I sent it to a friend who is wrestling with the best exit strategy for one who feels everything must be planned in advance of transit to ‘another place’ as he calls it. He reviewed it just as he would a student’s work, liking the prose style and some imagery. However, he then went to some lengths to tie me to the main character. He seemed certain that it was ‘future autobiographical’ and I would follow the lead of my character as the days wind down. Now he is very intelligent and so cannot be easily dismissed for his views. Does it mean that I have planned the last weeks of my life? In my deliberate renouncing of the usual narratives of death in modern society, religious or atheist, was I doing a bit of advance mapping? Was the novella, in fact, wishful thinking?
Of course, to some extent writers cannot escape themselves when they create characters but to say that I am a rapist, a murderer, a fat detective, a sixteen year old girl, an ancient magus and so on would be over-egging it a bit. The alternative view is that they are all fantasies, sometimes wishful and sometimes acting as a form of exorcism from the troubled depths of the unconscious. A third version and one to which I adhere, is that we are gem-like in our personalities and every facet represents different aspects of our characters. Each facet then can find its way into fully-fledged existence on the page.
I think that writers do what they do because they want to live other lives. It is very convenient. They don’t have to go ‘missing’ or seek a divorce. They just shut themselves away and split into their parts, each one of which graces their prose as a flesh and blood creation, a simulacrum of reality.