Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Are we really so nice ?

After reading Keith Rawson's blogpost on the place of the ego in the writer, and Steve Weddle's article on the place of morality in character development, it got me thinking.  What is it that informs my writing?

To my knowledge, I have never chopped anyone into little bits and placed them in a series of black bin liners, assassinated anyone, gone at someone with a sharpened shovel, or thrown strangers from cliff tops.  Neither have I a list of miscreants I want to murder in the most horrible fashion.  By all accounts, apparently, I am a nice bloke, yet my stories are littered with dark shadows and violent intentions.  And in this world of crime/noir I've dropped into, every writer I come in contact with seems the same.  Just really . . . nice.

So what is it with us crime/noir writers?  Why are such nice people writing such dark and violent stuff?  What are we trying to say about ourselves, about the world we live in?

Are we simply the passive-aggresives of the writing world?  Or does it go deeper than that?

For my part, it's all about the darkness and the facing of it and the taking a piece of it and putting it into words.  Sort of makes me feel better, you know.  But if I didn't know how to do that, you know, the facing and the listening and the writing down, and the words and the voices were left to whisper and howl and fester inside me, day after day, week after week, month after month , then I'd probably  . . .

Right.  Stop it.  That's enough of that.

Time for a coffee.  Do you want one?  I'll make you one.  If you want.  I'm a nice bloke, see.


A nice bloke.


  1. Keeps himself to himself...
    It's just shininga little light on the darkness,as, I think Bill Hicks once said.

  2. I like that, Paul. 'Shining a little light on the darkness'. But how much do we recognise that darkness as a part of ourselves, part we keep under wraps whenever we're not writing about it?

  3. Since I would never do the things I write about, it's entertaining to explore why and how someone would.

  4. Great Question. My answer? Think I'm going to have to duck.

  5. Know exactly what you mean, Clair, about the exploring, the working out the whys and wherefores. It's like stepping in the water for a while, just to see what it might feel like. Entertaining indeed. Funny how I find it more therapeutic than entertaining, though. But can't deny the entertainment factor :)

    And Nigel. I've been thinking that perhaps it is in the not knowing, the not analysing that we are able to write about the stuff. Sort of letting the unconscious throw up what it will, then letting it slip back down. Make sense of what it's thrown up, put it into words, and hey ho, there's another dark and brooding, murderous story.

  6. Writers are free to explore things other people tiptoe around. It's a gift!

  7. And a curse . . . ?

    Sorry, Kaye, just being a little mischievous :)

    That exploration thing, Kaye, that seems to be the heart of it. The willingness to step into the darkness and mould it into words. Scares the hell out of me sometimes, though. Having real trouble with a story at the moment for just that reason. Disturbs that darkness within just too much, the darkness that I need to keep at bay just to do the washing up and pick the kids up from school, you know, hoovering, all that normal stuff. Letting it out a little at a time can be quite a challenge.

  8. I feel I lead a double life, one on the outside and one on the inside. I'm especially split since I write under a pen name. All (or many?) writers must feel this way since so many works have been written about falling into a fictional place and having it come alive.

  9. Split like you wouldn't believe, Kaye. I suppose I look at it as rather than falling into a fictional place and having it come alive, as falling into a fictional place and hoping to come out alive. That's a little melodramtic, I know.

    Not enough coffee does that to a man.

    Tomorrow I'm going to post something about the link between the crime/noir genre and identification with the reader. I think. Need a tonne of coffee for that one.

    And some chocolate.


  10. Easy peasey. I am a miserable excuse for a human being and deserver of every despicable thing that's ever happened to me. 'scuze me. Gotta go stomp on some dreams -- other peoples of course.

  11. For me, it's the concept of Justice. Or the lack of it in the literary world. The bad guys are taking over. Anarchy is now the King. Long live the king! Naw . . . not for me. I want heroes. Honest to god heroes. They may be cops. They may be an assassin (I write about both, by the way). But they've got to face the darkness. . . the anarchy . . and make it pay.
    It's just that simple. For me, at least.

  12. I think you're right, AJ. There is a certain amount of tearing apart that goes on. For me too. A sort of stripping away of the layers.

    And B.R., something about what you say has really got me thinking. Justice. Never thought of it like that. It's got me thinking because, so far, I have never written a character on the side of the law. Never. All my characters tend to be from the broken and ragged side. You've got me thinking because you are so right - the characters I write about, and their attendent traits, don't have to be restricted to the one side of the fence. Food for thought indeed, mate.