Fiction Is a Necessity


I’ve been thinking about writing again.

Not just blogging–but writing fiction, too. Life seems a mite drab these days: Get up, go to work, come home, look at stack of unpaid bills, ignore unpaid bills if possible, mourn deceased father, worry about elderly mother, regret mistakes and missed opportunities, especially in relationships. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

There’s nothing like the death of one parent, the illness of the other, and your own physical problems to make you think about your own mortality and the fact that none of us knows how long we have on this earth. I don’t want to spend my whole life slogging through stuff I don’t want to do and miss out on some of the things I do want to do. I realize life can’t be a 24/7/365 thrill ride, and that we all have to carry our crosses, but I would really like something to get excited about in my life–something that adds color and challenge, and a feeling of having created and accomplished something good. Something that makes me get up out of bed and say, “Wow! Today I get to . . . (fill in the blank).” Writing may be that something. I have notes and drafts for several unfinished fiction projects on my hard drive–mostly of a comic booky, pulpy, science fictiony, type nature. I, the holder of a Master’s in English, with a specialization in Renaissance Lit., have to confess: I love pulp, or at least I used to. Somewhere along the line I lost interest and it became much less important. Perhaps I overdosed on it and provoked a reaction. Can I pick it back up again? I don’t know.

Why pulp? Why not higher brow literature? I’ve written some of that too over the years. I think for now I would just like to try to write something fun. Fun to write and fun to read. No moral, no message, no deeper meaning other than the victory of good over evil, which might be the theme of all great literature. I want to see the hero save the world and get the girl. I think all literature, even if it deals with serious issues, arises out of a need to imagine, to create, to pretend, to play. I want to play, at least for a little while. Pulpy, comic booky, science fictiony type stuff appeals to me, I suppose, because it brings that desire to play and the desire to see good triumph over evil down to their most basic and obvious level. It’s hard to take Superman seriously as a work of literature, but it’s easy for a nerdy guy like me to identify with Clark Kent, wish he were Superman, win the love of a girl like Lois Lane and whup a villain like Lex Luthor. As the great Catholic essayist G. K. Chesterton observed:

The simple need for some kind of ideal world in which fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and older than the rules of good art, and much more important. . . Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity . . The poor–the slaves who really stoop under the burden of life– have often been mad, scatter-brained, and cruel, but never hopeless. That is a class privilege, like cigars. Their drivelling literature will always be a “blood and thunder” literature, as simple as the thunder of heaven and the blood of men.

I’m not poor, but every once in a while I feel stooped under the burden of life and need some “blood and thunder” to give me hope. Let’s go make some blood and thunder!

2 thoughts on “Fiction Is a Necessity

  1. I burned out as a painter, and a jeweler. I just got fed up with it all and was comletely non-creative, (not uncreative, mind you, just not “making” anything.)I have started to make these tacky rediculous bracelets out of old beer caps, and you know what? I am having a blast….and selling them, too!Good luck and have fun.

  2. Niall,I’m going through similar doldrums right now following a cataclysm in my own life. The only thing I can suggest is that I believe that God rewards the attempt as much as the success.I’m looking forward to seeing janjan’s bottlecap jewelry, too!

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