Sometimes people ask me this question and I just don’t know what to say. Words like ‘a love-hate relationship’ comes to mind, but when you hate the stuff you write and you love it at the same time because you realise, you really know, this is me, there is nothing else left, then putting this into words becomes a delicate balancing act. Last week I read a review about one of my favourite writers David Foster Wallace on ‘The Nature of Fun’ who describes it perfectly. A few paragraphs:
The damaged-infant trope is perfect because it captures the mix of repulsion and love the fiction writer feels for something he’s working on. The fiction always comes out so horrifically defective, so hideous a betrayal of all your hopes for it – a cruel and repellent caricature of the perfection of its conception – yes, understand: grotesque because imperfect. And yet it’s yours, the infant is, it’s you, and you love it (…)
So you’re in a bit of a dicey position: you love the infant and want others to love it, but that means you hope others won’t see it correctly. You want to sort of fool people: you want them to see as perfect what you in your heart know is a betrayal of all perfection.
Or else you don’t want to fool these people; what you want is you want them to see and love a lovely, miraculous, perfect, ad-ready infant and to be right, correct, in what they see and feel. You want to be terribly wrong: you want the damaged infant’s hideousness to turn out to have been nothing but your own weird delusion or hallucination. But that’d mean you were crazy:
(…) it’d also mean you see and despise hideousness in a thing you made (and love), in your spawn, in certain ways you. And this last, best hope – this’d represent something way worse than just very bad parenting; it’d be a terrible kind of self-assault, almost self-torture. But that’s still what you most want: to be completely, insanely, suicidally wrong.
(…) The smart thing to say, I think, is that the way out of this bind is to work your way somehow back to your original motivation: fun. (…) Under fun’s new administration, writing fiction becomes a way to go deep inside yourself and illuminate precisely the stuff you don’t want to see or let anyone else see, and this stuff usually turns out (paradoxically) to be precisely the stuff all writers and readers share and respond to, feel.
I know this comes close to the trope of the ‘tortured artist’, who goes crazy because his world and ‘reality’ don’t seem to fit, ever, but if you read Wallace’s piece, he works his way through it. Or did he?
Instead of the image of a child, my work has more the feeling of a ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ about it. Botched together from parts that where available at the time, and the results keep turning up where ever I go, haunting me. ‘It’ never got named by its creator, and is refered to as it, monster, deamon etc. to put as much distance between maker and creature as possible. In the arts that is usually done the other way around. Either you destroy your work or you make the artist ‘anonymous’ or give any other name. And there we have it, another strategy to try out. Luckey, there is still fun to be had… write about it?