Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Writing as an escape, or writing to be real?
Today's my post for the Insecure Writers Support Group.
In a 1996 interview of David Foster Wallace, he talks about how traditional narrative is "a relief from what it feels like to live," whereas a writer who "does his job right" reminds the reader of "what it feels like to live," and his own intelligence, "wak[ing] the reader up to stuff that the reader's been aware of all the time."
So a major point of insecurity is that I don't write like that. I'm pretty trapped in traditional narrative (perhaps defined as a sort of writing that's not conscious of its reader), as that's all I've ever read and all I've ever enjoyed, because I've always read as escapism--as a relief from what it feels like to live.
This shouldn't be a problem, right? Because as writers we're supposed to write the books we want to read, and if we want to read escapist stuff we should write that too. But I think it may be a bit of a problem. I recognize the value of writing as a tool for the evolution of self: each cosmology we create, each internally coherent story, can be a holograph for understanding all of life--but the key to making it a true reflection of life is through its ability to connect with something real in the audience. If it connects to a reader's dreams and fantasies, it seems that no dialogue would be created for increasing consciousness of what's real--and the writing remains an escapist activity, a relief from what it feels like to live real life.
It tends to be that when I stop writing, I feel empty and purposeless, which reinforces the idea that I'm doing it to distract me from life instead of help me live it.
Supposedly it takes 10,000 hours to master something, which would be about three hours a day of writing for ten years. I'm not anywhere near that, but I can already feel a struggle between fantasy and reality as I continue to write.