How are the mighty fallen
Is there a pecking order in literature? Probably, to the purists there will always be.
But surely the most important aspect of any book is not its might, or the puissance of its ambition, but whether people read it. A book may be erudite, learned and witty, but if it runs to three thousand pages, fifteen volumes, or if it makes too many allusions to literature long past, it will probably end up decorating the shelves… Which is no bad thing. Lots of noble books decorate shelves, and contain much useful information…
When applied to fiction of a more populist bent, it seems to me that people can get the wrong idea about that too. Writing books about ‘ordinary people’ – a description which I take slight issue with, as in my experience we are all extraordinary – an author takes dilemmas and situations that feel everyday, and suggests creative solutions.
A fellow author Diane Dickson inspires me because her heroes and heroines take their courage in their hands and leave home, or take a chance to start again with something, and it intrigues me to see what twists and turns the characters go through before they get their answers. From watching the progress of Diane’s characters, I notice that what most of us want most of the time is more courage, more faith and love. It is a truism that we all want the same things: love, peace, hope, prosperity, and a sense of worth. We all only differ in the ways in which these can be achieved.
So when someone says, ‘Oh, how are the mighty fallen!’ when I say I’m writing general fiction, I reflect that this is a misunderstanding of what true writing is for. I write to share my experiences, to illuminate possibility, to inspire hope and add a dash of humour to life’s absurdities. If my books can do any of that, I don’t give a monkey’s uncle whether they are populist or highbrow.