IF YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE

IF YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE

In which is considered, writers and writing – {a series of didactic fragments} from The Lost Book of Idle Tidings, vols 1 – 4.

The Unruly Elite

Writers are not a breed apart, but they’re a radical extension of the social and cultural groups they belong to. They emerge from and are attached to the mainstream of human life in ways that are unavoidable. But they don’t accept the direction of the flow without a strenuous resistance to its tendency – the dire consequences of the tide being of little interest to their rogue-dolphin state of mind.

“It is necessary that writers uphold the startling fact that they are elements of rage against the machine of moral, social and political order.” – The Prince of Erratics

It is the purpose of writing to agitate and subvert, to probe and (as the Formalists put it) to defamiliarise the experiences of the species, to hold them to account before our minds’ eyes, so that we might see them for what they truly are, which is to know them for what they truly are, also.

“Fiction lies in order to tell the truth.” – Brugal the Inheritor

Above all, honesty should prevail. It is the torch you wield against the gloom of mediocrity and the lack of ambition that permeates, for example, political or business discourse (rightly referred to, in derogatory terms, as rhetoric).

The mainstream media, likewise, belts out a daily cacophony of disposable opinions – the false adaptations of truth to suit the agenda of the ruling elite – the shyster biases of the establishment and its system of privileges, patronages and the protection of its hegemony by a blank screen of outright lies.

The mainstream media has long since lost the courage and determination to tell the truth. It is intellectually and morally dead.

“Be prepared to think the unthinkable! Truth is a god that doesn’t require worship but requires the sacrificial offering of honesty and a willingness to be truthful. It is a god that wants you to be its image in human form.” – The Warping Sage

Aside from this, writing is also a process – a discipline – an approach that requires an adherence to established remits, some of which require a flexible adaptation to their uses as instruments of the strategic mapping of ideas.

But what does this mean in practice?

Genres

Writers often fret over the duplication of ideas that correspond to or resemble the ideas of others like themselves. These duplications, so long as they are deliberately and clearly inexact, are a fallacy – an alignment of similarities that never amount to a true likeness and never form a seamless congruence of theme or credo.

“Adherence to conventions is not a form of imitation. It is a response to converging influences coming from a range of creative and cultural outposts.” – The Regaling Scribe

Where similar ideas recur in fiction, where they become a discourse or wave that ripples across space and time, they become a movement, a trend or, in the case of consistency, a genre – which is not something to reject, but something to aspire to, to share and to engage in collectively.

Genres represent a positive cross-polinisation of ideas across a spectrum of instances of similar inclination (in mind and vision and emotional reach).

In critical terms, these ideas are called conventions. They are the writers to use at his or her behest – to manipulate, fashion, bend and break with all the freedom that writing allows.

The Original Whim

Genres are the furrows in which the seeds of ideas can be planted and grown to the effect of forming distinct appearances and strange textures of originality.

Such ideas pertain to the individual mind of the writer who conceives of them in the context of moments derived from personal history. Likewise, they come as a consequence of knowledge gained through real or imagined experiences, or through the immersion of the compliant mind in the discourses that precede and engulf it over time.

Ideation describes the possibility of forming unique ideas – ideas that don’t correspond to or emerge from the embedded earthworks of conventions.

“Ideation is the collection and projection of an author’s experience and personality delivered through a creative outcome.” – The Lector of Thaws

Write What You Don’t Know

The advice sometimes given to writers – “write what you know” – is bad advice. It is cripplingly incomplete as well as limiting.

You will write what you know as a matter of course. Knowledge informs your writing as much as air informs the atmosphere. But the atmosphere requires clouds and sunlight to make it eventful and full of shape.

Better advice is to “write what you imagine”. Knowing is the substance upon which the imagination feeds in order to produce its creative outcomes.

But what does this mean in practice?

It means that H. P. Lovecraft didn’t know what Cthulhu was before he created it. It was not a piece of knowledge he acquired and reused. Until he imagined it, it didn’t exist and, by imagining it, he made it possible.

“Imagination is the human mechanism for making things possible where they don’t exist.” – Tharg of the Great Sparks

Strategic Mapping

Some ideas – good ideas – are treasure trails you follow through the difficult terrain of the imagination until they lead you to a spot marked X.

The spot marked X is the point of perfection in storytelling – the point at which the story is told. Without the treasure trail of ideas, you will never reach the treasure trove of the spot marked X.

This is obvious. What isn’t so obvious is the strategic mapping of bad ideas.

Bad ideas are not easy to identify. They are signposts that encourage you to follow auspicious-looking paths which, in fact, lead you into dingy fogbanks or jungles of unearthly toil. You will find yourself lost or fatally enmeshed in the terrain of bad ideas. They must be resisted and shunned before you even embark on them.

As you come to recognise bad ideas for what they are, it’s better to abandon their empty promises of boons and riches that never appear.

As a wise woman said: “Learn to admit your failures before you become one.”

And such is the path where honesty begins, that leads to The Land of Great Making.

“Be true to truth!” – Sailor’s motto.