In my last blog (Working Title) I attempted to answer the questions posed by Petra in her Writing Questions for YOU post. Not unusually for me, a few dozen words became a few hundred and I ended my own post having answered (in a peculiarly roundabout way, I admit) only one of her questions. I promised (threatened) to answer the others and, unfortunately, this is the best I have yet managed. The questions seemed to me, serious ones, so I have given them some consideration and answered them as honestly as I can. This is not my strength, so please forgive me if I meander…
The first question asked whether dreams have ever provided inspiration for stories and, if so, how? I have two main problems with dreams as inspiration:
- In general, I do not remember them, and
- I am never totally convinced that everything is not a dream: that my entire life is not merely a figment of somebody else’s fevered nocturnal machinations, in which case it is just possible that my dreams are reality and the reason I don’t remember them is because they are incredibly tedious.
I don’t believe that I have ever knowingly written anything based on a dream, but I have written about dreams in a post, way back in November 2019 (All You Ever Wanted to Know About Dreams, But Were Afraid to Ask), so if you truly seek the answers, they just might be there.
The next can of worms (I’m sorry, ‘question’) involved writing about other races and genders. Well, I truly have never questioned the ethnicity of any of my characters. (Does that make me racist?) They just are. I cannot claim to be content with that, but in my small world, everybody is the same under the skin, and skin is just that – something to keep the rain off. I am perfectly happy to talk about racism; it is inherently, futilely evil and pernicious, but writing about it within the kind of posts that I write would simply trivialise it, and I have no desire to do that. There are many who are perfectly capable of articulating the sheer iniquity of it, but I am not one of them. Most of my characters, at heart, are me and they are whatever colour, whatever diaspora you choose for them. I very much hope that you like them when they are likeable and dislike them when they are not.
As for gender, well, I have to admit that the gender of my characters often changes during writing. If you have ever read any of the Dinah and Shaw Little Fictions, you should know that Dinah is almost certainly me, but then again, so is Shaw… I think in most respects we are similar – we laugh at the same things, get mad at the same things, cry at the same things regardless of reproductive arrangements. In a few respects however, we are completely different and that has to be celebrated. If you can consider those differences in a way that both sexes find amusing, well, that’s comedy gold isn’t it? If you ever find a way of doing it, please let me know. (The late, great Victoria Wood handled it effortlessly. Unfortunately few of us, if any, will ever possess such talent.)
I am a passionate believer that, fundamentally, we are all the same and that we should, therefore, all be afforded exactly the same opportunities in life – which we patently are not. I have no idea how we can put that right. Antagonising a certain type of person will just entrench their views; preaching only ever appeals to the already converted. If I can make somebody think by making them smile well, at least it’s a start isn’t it? I’m not keen on confrontation and I would never seek to deliberately offend (although I have no doubt that I may have inadvertently done so a thousand times) and I think that seriously limits me, but it does mean that I have never published anything that I truly regret. I regret having published things that I now realise were just not good enough, but that’s a whole different bucket of frogs. I’m annoyed that I can’t do better, but ashamed? I don’t think so. There’s always time though…
One thing I seldom, if ever, stick my nose into is religion. As far as I can see, there is more than enough room in this world for anyone to believe whatever they choose to believe. I completely understand why religion is so emotive, I understand the passion. What I don’t understand is why the passion so readily becomes violence. I cannot believe that hatred of ‘others’ is a true tenet of any religion. You may say that I’m a dreamer etc etc.
Finally (at last!) the question of style. Do I Work on Style? Well, patently not. Take a read through my ‘back catalogue’ and you will be absolutely assured of my lack of it. I fear that ‘This Man Had No Style’ may well be my epitaph. As for genre, well, other than the constant attempt to grapple a little humour from everything I write, I don’t really think I work within one. I hope that, other than being filed under ‘drivel’, I am not that easy to categorise.
So, that’s it. I have tried to answer the questions honestly. I hope you will forgive me if I promise not to do it again.
When you know the answers, I think, perhaps, you keep them to yourself…