Is it ego that drives me to write every day, the thought of fame and success and a long awaited payday, or is it something else?
Surely if it were purely ego I’d have given up by now, seeing as though I have a family to help support. Is it pride that keeps me from calling it quits and turning my hand to something more profitable? Or is it that writing is a calling, much the same as the urge to be a missionary or a nurse?
Where do my dreams and this overwhelming urge to write come from? Is it ego? Or is it inspiration?
D. H. Lawrence finds in favour of inspiration.
“The creative, spontaneous soul sends forth its promptings of desire and aspiration in us. These promptings are your true fate which is our business to fulfill.”
I’m happy to agree. Our dreams come from somewhere beyond us. Some people dream of having a successful jewellery business, others of winning a gold medal or the lottery. I dream of writing books that people around the world will read and connect with. According to Lawrence my fate is to follow this dream.
When I first started doing my Masters in Philosophy in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland I used to laugh at us writers being under the banner of philosophy. Now I know it’s exactly where we should be. Writers, more than almost any other profession, spend time alone thinking. We spend an inordinate amount of time in the mysterious realm of the imagination trying to understand what it is to live. We think, and try to create order of the mess we’re all in, to shape something beautiful that others will enjoy. We write so that our readers will see themselves and their experiences reflected in our work in a way that makes them think a little more closely or in a different way.
Surely philosophical issues such as these are best discussed in essays or non-fiction, so why write fiction?
I’ll let Frederic Raphael answer that one. “Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is truer.”
It is through stories with plots − beginnings, middles and ends − that most people make sense of their lives. We come home and tell each other stories of our days to find perspective and an audience. It is in the telling of our stories that we order our lives and create meaning.
Writing fiction takes it one step further. Fiction writing enables us to stand aside and let that inexplicable being, the imagination – or whatever it is you prefer to call it – generate stories that are outside the realm of our experience, that somehow go deeper, are truer.
I write fiction because I love it. Because when I put the ego aside, and let whatever else it is flow through me, stories ego alone couldn’t produce emerge.
Sometimes even beauty.