Katherine Langrish has said it again. She writes one of those wonderful blogs that I wish I could write, saying things I’ve tried to say (and not said well) or just started to reach toward (but hadn’t arrived at yet).
Today is yet another example of this uncanny literary prowess. In ‘Faerie-led,’ Katherine raises the inevitable question of why anyone would choose to write fantasy.
What makes a writer choose one subject over another, one genre over another? What draws one writer to contemporary fiction, another to historical fiction, fantasy, or thrillers? While I know and admire a number of authors who can handle a variety of forms (Gillian Philip and Nicola Morgan, for example, who seem equally and brilliantly at home with both gritty thrillers and historical or fantasy novels) – there are others like myself who stick to a single last. From the age of about ten, writing fantasy has been my first and only love.
This doesn’t mean to say that I haven’t had qualms. I’ve asked myself, in the past, what relevance fantasy has or can have to the problems of life. Can it really be serious? Shouldn’t I – shouldn’t I? – be writing something more meaningful?
But I have come to the conclusion that what is done with a whole heart, with love, and with as much artistic truth as I can personally muster, must be good enough. More than that is out of my control. I don’t have a choice. There is in writing, as in all art, […] something that feels remarkably like outside inspiration: a fierce compulsion that grasps you by the hair and demands and absolutely requires: this is what you will write about: this and this alone. If you don’t obey it you feel restless, haunted. You cannot ignore it. You cannot decide to write about something else. (Or if you try, what you turn out will be stale, flat and unprofitable.)
Katherine’s post is worth reading in full here, not least because it ends with an eerie reimagining of ‘Thomas the Rhymer.’
Some emotions are just to strong and immediate for a comment box, and my enthusiasm for this post is one of them. Yet again, Katherine has said exactly what I needed to hear exactly when I needed to hear it. I can only hope it’s the same for you.
So, read and report. Have you asked those questions yourself? How have you found ways of answering them, or have you?