What is this thing we call writing?

Since I don’t watch a lot of TV, I missed the debut season of the series LOST, even though two of my sons had independently mentioned they thought I would like the show. So, right before the second season started, I loaded up our Netflix list and my husband and I watched the whole season in a week … or was it a weekend. Whatever. The experience was intense.

In case you don’t know what LOST is about, it’s the story of a mysterious island that, seemingly, is under control of the forces of good and evil. These forces control the lives of certain people, at least to some degree, and eventually bring them to the island. This series focuses on the survivors of a plane that crashed on the island.

WARNING! Possible spoiler alert in the next paragraph:

This final season seems to be showing us that these “survivors” are leading lives in two dimensions: they crashed; they didn’t crash. Of course, this is an examination of the nature of time and existence, which is something I consider daily. And naturally, I like to consider it in the light of writing.

What is the nature of The Muse? What exactly is this state we call creativity? Do we truly “make up” our stories or do we channel some alternate reality, or past life, or even future life, if you consider time a man-made convention. Are we simply recording the collective unconscious?

Your thoughts?

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39 thoughts on “What is this thing we call writing?

  1. I could spend hours contemplating what my life would be if I had made different decisions along the way. Ditto for my characters. It is like exploring different dimensions. If she chooses to walk through the dark parking lot alone she may find trouble, but if she decides to ask someone to walk with her, yet, a different outcome. It’s one of the fun things about writing. We control the destiny of our characters. We create the conflict.

    I don’t think I’m channeling when I write and I do enjoy the control I have.
    That being said, like Pamela and Suzanne, my characters can and do take on their own lives, which can be just as much fun as having control. It certainly has a magical quality.

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    1. I do love the that we’re able to write the “what ifs” in fiction.

      My plan is to take all the credit when my novel gets rave reviews and to blame it on “whatever” when it’s panned. 😉

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  2. I’m coming back to this. Psychology has quite a lot to say about mind as an emergent property of brain, not all of which I can articulate with any confidence, and writing fiction has given me a new perspective on the perceived reality/imagined construction of characters. I seem to be able to write male dialogue and it feels natural as I produce it (hopefully also to the reader) but I know that it isn’t me. Separate and distinct but integrated and cohesive. I want to ponder on this.

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    1. You said: I seem to be able to write male dialogue and it feels natural as I produce it (hopefully also to the reader) but I know that it isn’t me. I can relate to that. The main character in both my novels are male, which intrigues me.

      I would love to hear what more you have to say on this, and hope I can follow it. 🙂

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        1. Follow it, I mean. Myself.
          Just saw Brian Cox (Prof Brian Cox – particle physicist) on a cookery programme. I have no talents at either so it’s a good thing he’s eye candy, at least I can follow the view!

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          1. Nope! He was making some kind of chocolate confection! But he was also fielding questions such as ‘What’s outside the universe?’ (nothing – this IS the universe) and ‘When will we have teleportation?’ (Now – a whole photon got teleported under the Danube evidently). This is the man who used to be a rock star (keyboards in D:Ream), not to be confused with Brian MAY (Queen) lately PhD in astrophysics. We know how to make ’em over here!

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          2. Universe: think we’re talking Big Bang, Einsteinian, expanding – with all that temporal relativity stuff (like I know!).
            Brian May started out in astrophysics and had a 30 year hiatus mucking about with a popular beat combo before nipping back to finish his dissertation. Respeck!

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  3. Hmmm, very interesting thread here.

    I too feel that there is this whole hardware issue Paul brought up, plus the collective memory, and since having kids I am becoming a strong believer in genetic memory (hey – if it exits in monarchs, why not humans? But i think we’ve discussed this….).

    I think imagination plays the largest role, and just getting lost in it, so that to me, it does feel real. I, unlike JCO, do not have such a clear distinction that my characters are not real. After all, when it comes to the brain, there is no dinstiction in its response to memory verus reality.

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    1. Interesting thought that our fictional characters are ‘real’ in our heads, no less so than the many personalities of a person with MPD.
      Writing = controlled insanity.

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  4. Boy did I pick the wrong weekend to be out of town. What a great conversation! I’ve really enjoyed reading all of the comments.

    Time, Space, Reality, and Perception rank very high on my list of desirable topics and when you roll all of this into a conversation about writing — well — it’s like a little piece of heaven.

    Great discussion.

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  5. My characters have, for the most part, pretty much taken over in my writing. What I’m finding interesting is that my character who is sorta kinda my alter-ego is the one character I’m struggling with the most and the one who seems most reluctant to do much of anything without me telling her what to do and say. The others are defining their own realities and moving ahead on their merry way and I’m just trying to catch up with them.

    I would agree that writing = insanity. Not so sure how much ‘controlled’ always figures into the equation, though.

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    1. Natasha, it’s interesting that your alter ego is the one giving you the most trouble. Sounds like you’re working through something there. Maybe you two should take a walk. 😉

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