So, creativity – it means you’re a free spirit, doesn’t it? It means that life is just there and it just is what it is. We’re writing to escape the humdrum existence and routine of the nine-to-five shit that just keeps us locked up in a places we’d rather not be. And society, that’s just there to keep me in place, provide the illusion of stability in an unstable world. I wan’t to escape all of this, just so that – well, so that I can put everything back in order and create the illusion of stability in an unstable world.
Now, this post relates mainly to fiction writing, but I’ve been thinking this through for a while now and I think that it relates to most other things as well – yes that is most other things in life, in general. And it relates to the human need and desire to categorise and structure and order everything, including ourselves.
To explain, I’m going to draw on another pastime of mine: photography. I am one of those people that likes to go out and take pictures of landscapes, and I happen – not by chance, but through sacrifice, determination, and the acceptance of poverty – to have ended up in the lake district; the most photographic of England’s diverse environments. And this is where it all fits together: When I photograph a landscape I am essentially trying to fit the scene in front of me into a predetermined shape, i.e that of a photograph. I take a random set of ingredients (tree, rock, water etc), and I organise them into particular shapes so that the human eye appreciates them in a way that it has learned to see and accept as human and artistic. It is what we do.
Now even the most free-spirited writer is following these rules, but they’re just falling into a different format: in the writer’s case (or is that the writers’ case?), they are turning the essential ingredients of the human condition into a beginning, a middle and an end – a concise, neatly packaged bundle of humanity to digest and study in narrative form (for the most part). And for something so associated with free thinking, it really is constrained when you begin to think about it.
But that is also why it is so important. It is the separator that we have from any other living organism; it is what being human is all about. When you think that we have the ability to conjure up stories about things that we haven’t even seen, or know to be myth, then you know that something far deeper than just living is going on, and it’s the desire for order that drives this. Even though thousands of real stories are unfolding in front of us in reality, every day, we still feel the need to create others that fit into this cast, this refined form of life with distilled, or entirely fabricated characters that serve to point out, explicitly, everything that we are in the neat structure that we call a novel.
So order is what we want; but it’s order that is arranged with understanding and purpose. A purpose to explore and dissect who we really are and why we do what we do.
Because surely, if we can order and organise the mad world around us, then we might be able to sneak some order into our own lives and even ourselves.
So, there you go.
- Theory of Creative Nonfiction (rossksellers.wordpress.com)
- Using Personal Disasters to Inform Your Writing (psychologytoday.com)