Who Do I Write For, What’s It About and Why Do I Do It?
The short answers are – me, life as I know it, and because I can’t help myself. Now, brace yourself for the longer answers.
I write the kind of stuff I would want to read. But I do have other readers in mind, besides myself, as I work at a story. And I do want to engage and entertain anyone who gives my writing some of their precious time. However, even if nobody read what I wrote, I’d still do it.
I write in various formats – contemporary novels, short stories, flash fiction, children’s stories. I also do non-fiction such as book reviews and magazine articles on the craft of writing. And, of course, there’s this blog.
But for the purposes of this post, I’m considering mainly my fiction writing and in particular my novel writing for adults. The art and craft of creative writing is something I’m driven to do. I’ve done it since I could make marks on paper. I don’t mean since I could form the letters of the alphabet. I mean even before that when I scribble wrote – squiggles on scrap paper and my granny used to ‘read’ my stories back to me. I was amazed, but completely believed that these tales had been created by me. And the buzz of ‘I made this’ has never left me.
I don’t write in order to be rich and famous, which is just as well, since both are unlikely. I write because I’m a storyteller.
My writing isn’t edgy, unconventional or brave. I don’t write crime, historical, sci-fi or fantasy novels. Neither do I write literary works – well, I don’t believe I do and, anyway, literary or not is probably for others to decide. I’m just happy for my writing to be literate.
Yes, I write imaginatively, but my settings are contemporary and rooted in the every day. My characters experience love, grief, desperation, joy and longing. I hope my writing is quietly subversive, always compassionate and most of all true.
My main characters nowadays, when writing for adults, tend to be middle-aged, like me. One thing I found in my own reading, as I got to fifty plus, was a dearth of middle-aged protagonists – especially female ones – with whom I could identify, sympathise and from whom I could learn. I suspect there’s a bit of ‘BBC newsreader/presenter’ syndrome going on – i.e. a belief that post-menopausal females should become invisible.
So my protagonists, both male and female, are of a certain age. They live, work and love in the twenty-first century. They’re lost and confused when they begin their story journey, but through their interactions with life, work and love they achieve if not redemption, then at least an accommodation, with the present and new hope for the future.
My first novel contained marriage breakdown, suicide, drug addiction, betrayal, grief and serious illness. Yes – a laugh a minute. BUT it also contained love – romantic, family and between friends – bravery, hope and humour. In other words – just about all of real life was in there.
Of course containing all these themes makes it difficult to pigeonhole it. I like to brand it simply as contemporary fiction and to trust readers to keep an open mind. In my own reading, as I mentioned just a few posts ago, I’m doing just that – reading across genres, age groups and styles. It’s enriching in many ways, but it’s especially exciting as regards my own development as a writer.
Because the last thing I want to do is to get in a rut. I want to evolve, develop and improve as a writer (and as a human being). So I’ve answered the three starter questions – for now – but watch this space…
In closing – I know many people – creative and otherwise – agonise about wanting to leave the world a better place. That’s an impossibly tall order, and anyway, we can’t judge our own performance in that regard. But what I do know I’ve achieved by writing, is that I’ve made my own world a better place. And that’s both a start and enough – for now…
If you’re a creative person – writer, artist, musician, knitter – whatever, what is it that drives you?