Regular readers of this site – both of them – may have noticed I’ve taken a break from blogging recently. This is not a deliberate move, more the fact that my ‘leisure’ time has been taken up by a new endeavour, fiction writing, and I’ve had less time to concentrate on the spurious ramblings I inflict on a miniscule percentage of the world here.
Indeed this is likely to be the status quo from now on as I have started a love affair with the short story and have been working on a couple of late. Not, I hasten to add, of sufficient quality for other people’s eyes just yet, but in time I hope to inflict the inner workings of my mind upon you, as and when I find any inner workings.
This however, I reckon, is likely to be one of the most challenging aspects of creative writing – allowing other people to read your work. Even with the little experience I have had of it, and that’s no more than a few hours of my life, I’ve come to realise that serving up my literary efforts for the scrutiny of others could be an excruciating exercise that might inspire some soul-searching. First of all, the prose is likely to be bad, but I can cope with that, these things get better. What is more worrying is the fact that more than anything else, letting your mind wander on the page lays open your imagination, your thoughts and feelings for all to see and in its most candid moments is akin to publishing in full the transcription of an intimate counselling session. Displaying that degree on honesty openly takes guts but also the acceptance that those who read it might not like what they learn about you.
The other worrying aspect of all this creativity is simply this – I suspect it’s impossible to create characters that are not influenced in some way by the people around you, and in many cases by those you know and love the most. This isn’t a great situation if you’re going make bad things happen to them as is the case in all good literature. When your friends and family start recognising themselves or their own traits in a character who comes to a grizzly end, some difficult questions might start flying around.
Essentially then, by embarking on a literary journey, there is a danger of those around you finding out just how peculiar your mind is and disapproving of its contents, and also reading into your tales things that they think you think about them. No wonder so many great writers have been loners.
In the end I guess if the yearning to write really takes you, then the best you can do is be honest, write about the things you know and be prepared to put at ease those around you for whom you care. That way, to plagiarise that classic phrase from journalism, you can publish and be damned knowing that although you’ll never be beyond reproach, you at least start from a defendable position and are doing all you can to limit the damage your words have the potential to inflict.