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A Writer's Paradox

    Wherein the author shares something that’s left him standing at a crossroad for a really long time.

Did you ever have to finally decide
Say yes to one and let the other one ride
There’s so many changes and tears you must hide
Did you ever have to finally decide

    “Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind”
    — John Sebastion (with The Loving Spoonful)

Start: There’s a sort of dynamic tension that’s been part of my life for a very long time, and the lyrics from the very old song above seem to sum it up pretty well. Writing is not an easy thing, though some have innate talent, and I feel I’ve been blessed with a little of that. (And, frankly, it’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do.) But, on the other hand, the majority of my life has been a spiritual journey, and I can’t help but look at my existence in what I feel is the broadest context there is.

For quite I while I’ve wrestled with what fiction is. And really, think about it: what is fiction? It can be a lot of things, but to develop a consistent audience (and make a living at it) it has to be, at some level, entertainment.

What is entertainment? To one degree or another, it’s an escape.

Escape from what? Well, that would be reality.

And what is spirituality? I feel deeply that, in practice, it is the seeking and finding of reality.

There, then, is the rub.

Wired to the Gills

In American society, and to some extent all of western society, entertainment is everywhere. Radio has been with us for nearly a century, music is always in the background in the consumer areas of even the most mundane businesses. Television has been with us since shortly after World War II, and now offers hundred of channels on even the most esoteric subjects. Video and computer games have been with us since the ’70s, the internet came to life in the ’90s and has been reaching more deeply into our lives ever since. We’re all wired now, 24/7/365 if we so choose.

(Silence? What’s that?)

And reading, due to the creation of ebooks and ebook readers, has made a significant comeback.

So when a spiritual teacher that I respected told me that drawing people into their imaginations is doing a great disservice to them by guiding them away from reality, I had to consider it.

And what, exactly, is a fiction writer’s work?

(Oh, bloody Hell.)

Angel’s Work … or Not?

A Writer's ParadoxI can’t say I’ve resolved this conundrum to my satisfaction, but I think it comes down to the question: as a writer of fiction, do I lead people away from reality?

I should note that what I mean by “reality” also includes our inner reality — being able to step back from the endless chattering of the mind and objectively observe the stuff going on inside us, and being able to reach the place all of us have inside that connects us to God, Self, our Higher Power, call it what you will.

So what’s the answer? Here’s where I am now:

In the short term: yeah. Obviously this is what writing fiction is about, for me anyway — going somewhere or experiencing something I couldn’t go or do otherwise.

In the long term: no. The things I write about are the things that interest me; literally, the meaning of existence and all that. My hope, at least with the overall body of my work, is to provoke the reader into considering perspectives, situations, and the Bigger Questions that the reader may not normally ponder in the course of their day-to-day living.

In my mind, this is more of a contribution, and may even be a healing inspiration at times, rather than a disservice.

Having come to these tentative conclusions, I’ve been sailing ahead as best as I am able. So, come on in, the water’s fine. But, be mindful of the undertow.

Did you ever have to finally decide
Say yes to one and let the other one ride
There’s so many changes and tears you must hide
Did you ever have to finally decide

You can read my latest flash-fiction on The 5 Second Novel, and get the collection of the first 100 of them here.

• • •

Copyright © 2015, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.

End

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500 Seconds

Need a quick read? Here’s 100 of them.
 
500 Seconds: The First One Hundred 5 Second Novels
 
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Daniel

Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller’s short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.

Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.

Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and StumbleUpon.

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