I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

A Thin And Tasteless Soup

In amongst all the emotions and thoughts that unsettle me when the anniversaries of September the 11th come around, there is one that especially pertains to writing, particularly fiction.

In the days that followed those awful events, I remember very clearly the feeling I had of being emptied of ambition and drive, of almost believing that I wouldn't be able to continue with the story I was working on. The material seemed so insignificant when held up beside the enormity of what had unfolded; and it was absolutely impossible to declare oneself immune to the universal dread that was created that day. Everything to do with creative writing seemed such a paltry, pale endeavour, up against the backdrop of such screaming insanity.

I remember thinking this in the weeks that followed: My writing contains nothing worth thinking about, nothing that challenges, nothing that matches the heaviness of the issues surrounding September the 11th. My work looked like a thin and tasteless soup, in which no one would bother sullying their spoons. I heard this thought echoed by others in other fields. How can we go on with menial missions after what's happened? Who would bother themselves with my little project here when all of that is looming behind us?

Thank goodness this sentiment didn't last. I came to the realisation that often it's the work that begins as a paltry endeavour that blossoms into something magical. There is a place for the heavy and a place for the light. There is a place for the thinking and a place for the mental larking!

This brings me on to that whole issue of how much substance a novel should contain. Does there always have to be a message, analysis, a social commentary, an examination of the nature of life? Why can't we just write something that is a jolly good read, that doesn't pull on all corners of our mind, that doesn't sink us into deep contemplation?

I say there is more room for the thin, tasteless soup, which appears - to the unknowing - to have very little substance. Remember that these simple tonics are sometimes needed by those who are not able to take in anything else, when life has reduced them to such a state that nothing heavy is beneficial anymore.


Debi said...

As I read this post I was already thinking of my comment. But then you made it yourself in that last para! And far better than I could have ...

S. Kearney said...

Thanks Debi,
I am convinced that writers shouldn't feel that it's on their shoulders to furnish readers with solutions to life's almighty problems .. what we produce won't be everything for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Everything in its place, and a place for everything. The world is a big place, we all have differing tastes and expectations from what we read. I get sick to the eye teeth with these so-called literary critics who will tear a carcass to pieces because they didn't get THEIR fill.
My bowl sometimes contains a very meaty broth and sometimes a T and T - I usually enjoy both!

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