cover image of Mr Wigg

Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson

A recent back injury has had me confined to bed with a cushion under my knees for the last week. No driving, no yoga, no writing, not much of anything – except reading and pain.

I picked up Inga Simpson’s delightful Mr Wigg and found as much gentle comfort as a big eggy bowl of custard eaten with a small spoon. This deceptively simple story of an old man tending his talkative orchard, cooking with his grandchildren and tinkering away on a “special project”, was a balm to my spirit. It was imbued with a deep belief in the sweetness of life that made it hard to put down, and even harder to finish. This is a book to buy and cherish, to be brought down from the shelves whenever the flu or a backache or the blues hit. I am deeply grateful to Inga for the comfort of her story.

Of course, my back injury was the result of continuing to push on and “do” when my body was sending me twinges as warnings that I needed to slow down, to be still. Which brings me to my next book of the week. Sons and Lovers by my old favourite D.H.Lawrence who is nothing if not sensual and of the spirit. I’ll finish with a quote from him that delivers the same message my back was trying to tell me.

“…life seemed a shadow, day a white shadow; night, and death, and stillness, and inaction, this seemed like being. To be alive, to be urgent and insistent – that was not-to-be. The highest of all was to melt out into the darkness and sway there, identified with the great Being.”




William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) Inspiration(1898)

William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) Inspiration(1898)

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.