Monday Motivation: The simple point of creative writing
Whatever field we specialise in, an intensely human inclination is to over-complicate and over-explain things. This is as true of writing and writing professionals as it is of anyone else.
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
And then, occasionally, along comes someone who strips away all the ornamentation – the rules, the instructions, the warnings – and simply states what writing’s about and what the writer’s function and duty are.
Enter John Waters, filmmaker, actor, director, writer – and iconoclast, renowned and revered (and reviled!) for his transgressive movies. He was recently interviewed on the New York Times books podcast about the recent publication of his first novel. I was struck by what he said about writing.
The writer, he said, writes stories “which introduce characters you would never otherwise have met… I just want to tell you a good story… I want you to come into my world, and I’ll be your guide, and you’ll be safe.”
Together writer and reader, he said, “would investigate people that we would maybe never be able to understand, figure out what makes them act like that.
“That,” he concluded, “is what all writers do.”
There you have it. Tell a good story. Create a world in which characters exist that the reader might never otherwise have encountered. Show your readers why your characters act in the sometimes surprising ways that they do. You’re the guide, you’re in control.
It’s a very simple ambition. Of course, nobody pretends that it’s easy to accomplish these simple things. But it helps to be reminded that this, after all, is our singular, uncomplicated mission.
PS – I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments section.