I've been at an impasse lately. I have a few story ideas, but I am unable to bring myself to do anything more than hack out a few desultory paragraphs. It's possible that these are simply not very good ideas, or that I'm in a fallow phase. However, I think it also has to do with trying to figure out why I am writing fiction. This quote by Anais Nin, shared by Theodora Goss on her Facebook account, may have answered my question at one time, not too long ago:
"Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.” ― Anaïs NinThen there's this:
“I think every work of art is an act of faith, or we wouldn’t bother to do it. It is a message in a bottle, a shout in the dark. It’s saying, ‘I’m here and I believe that you are somewhere and that you will answer if necessary across time, not necessarily in my lifetime.’ ” --Jeanette Winterson.Winterson's quote makes a lot more sense to me today. Nin seems to live in a suffocating, solipsist wardrobe of fancy; Winterson suggests an equally isolated position, but only as a starting point to an act of communication. But they both suggest that creative motivation is a fixed, stable thing. And that's why I've been increasingly fascinated by this blog post by M. John Harrison:
Sometimes a writing problem will begin to resolve itself when you recognise that you haven’t been acknowledging pivotal events in your life. You’ve changed without knowing it. You were looking in the wrong place for solutions because you were looking in the wrong place for yourself. This recognition, however, doesn’t provide automatic or short-term relief. It’s unlikely to be a professional solution. The problem of writing is always the problem of who you were, always the problem of who to be next. It is a game of catch-up, of understanding that what you’re failing to write could only be written by who you used to be. Who you are now should be writing something else: what, you won’t know until you try.I'm not the same person I was and I'm not, perhaps, trying to communicate to the same notional other. One thing's for sure: I can't keep writing the same things in the same way forever. So I need to catch up with myself and ask him what the fuck he wants to write.