it suddenly occurred to me on the way into town today that logical existence and rational thought is strengthened by facts, evidence and references to existing elements. But for creativity to exist with the same weight as logic – ‘we’ must invent it first. Without mental invention, there is no existence of creativity. Once it has been created, it is as real as anything logical, rational or dripping in physical evidence. The only difference between whats ‘real’ and what (apparently) isn’t, is our ability to think of it first.
Here’s an example.
When I first tried my hand at creative writing. I fell at the very first hurdle. I didn’t know what to write about a character because that life didn’t exist. I was stuck. I tried to copy a life in existence by using bits of people I already know in real life. It worked, but its also very weak and limiting. People I know, don’t murder people, have dangerous jobs, have amazing wealth or bounce across continental borders with the police chasing them.
Then it eventually occurred to me that I had to ‘create’ life. Not just write a story that a pretend person played a part in – I had to invent, think, create, give birth to a whole world for this fictional being to exist. This made my brain ‘jar’ a bit, it was completely unnatural to me, it was false, fake, deceptive and illogical. It was like I was lying to myself, and to others that would read about it. Creating life with thought? Jebus, who’d have thought it would be so hard? Not in the actual sense of ‘thinking stuff up’, but in the conceptual sense of realising that’s what writing fiction is about.
No where in all the creative writing books I’d read, broke it down this that level:
“okay mark, here’s the deal. Forget about reality, you have to make this shit up. It’ll feel odd, but just go with it right? I know, I know, you can’t write about his job, because you don’t know what it is. That’s where you just make something up. Yes, well don’t worry whether its right or wrong, because the character isn’t real, so you cannot be ‘wrong’ – ever. Yep, granted you’ll have thought that people won’t believe your character is real, because you just ‘made it up’, but relax, that’s why they’re reading a piece of ‘fiction’ geddit? The clue is in the title there. Fiction. Make believe is fine. They don’t want truth, fact, or reality. They want ‘made up’, fake and invented. Its hard yes, but its right, and it will always be right as long as you keep doing it and getting better and better at it. Just trust your creativity and you’ll be okay, okay?”
… and so it continues.
This is one thing that creative writing books fail to acknowledge in their ‘dummies guide to creative writing’ editions – it assumes that the reader understands the difference between real and fictional worlds. Maybe I’m being too dumb here – I mean even I know the difference between them. But its only the writers that get to invent life from thought…. and when you’re not ‘a writer’ yet, just a beginner, you’d have imagined this basic building block would be the first priority on the list.
Or maybe its just me.