mind of a writer, part 2

As We Are

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

When I first encountered this idea, I balked at it. My ego wouldn’t allow me to accept it. Also, it scared me to consider the possibility that my point of view is eternally, irrevocably skewed.

Now, a few years later, I not only accept this truth–I revel in it. We are, all of us, like tinted, distorted lenses, and we see the world through ourselves. No one sees the world as it is. I’m reminded of what Morpheus told Neo in The Matrix: “What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

The key word there is ‘interpreted’. We are always interpreting reality, never seeing it in its naked form.

“Okay, thanks Plato,” you say. “But as much as I appreciate your metaphysical remarks, I’m here because you’re supposed to be talking about writing. Isn’t that what your Tuesday posts are all about? I can see the tag on this very post. There it is, right there: ‘writing’. Why don’t you stick to reflections on the writing process and leave this other stuff to philosophers and poets?”

Ah, but dear reader, aren’t poets writers?

“What?! You can’t do that!” you say. “First, you know damn well what I meant. And second, I’m not even talking. You’re putting these words in my mouth!”

Fair enough.

But you should know, I am talking about writing. All writing is an exploration of what is real, and on this journey whatever you write–be it poetry, prose or prevarication–it’s all really the same thing. It’s how you see the world…which may or may not be how the world really is.

Think about that for a moment.

Of course, the risk is that you’ll conclude that your writing is thoroughly irrelevant. If we’re all delusional, we’re all irrelevant, right? Wrong. Life is, in many ways, a shared delusion, and your point of view will match up with others more often than you’d think. In other words, you may not see the world as it truly is, but no one else does, either. Art happens when our shared (even if flawed) points of view overlap in ways that open our eyes.

Your fiction can do that. It can be the light that passes through our bent, colored lenses, not dispelling on the other side but fragmenting into a beautiful rainbow.

If, that is, you can accept this basic truth first: that you see the world, not as it is, but as you are. Until you realize that (as a writer and as a person), you’re doomed to the frustration of insisting that your point of view is ‘correct’ and all others wrong. Please don’t make that mistake in writing or in life.

Instead, embrace your flawed perspective. Test it. Share it in your fiction, pushing to find those places where your point of view matches others.

A tad philosophical for a Tuesday? Perhaps. Eh–I’m a crooked lens, too. Today, the light bends this way. I’ve learned to just roll with it.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

2 Responses to mind of a writer, part 2

  1. Ah, yes – what is real happens in the space between us – there is no objectivity, there is nothing we can experience that we don’t interpret through our own unique lens. I love this line – Your fiction can do that. It can be the light that passes through our bent, colored lenses, not dispelling on the other side but fragmenting into a beautiful rainbow. It is exactly what I would want my writing to do. So well said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dex says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Honestly, when I wrote this I was concerned it might be a little too abstract. I’m so glad to hear it resonated with someone else.

      Like

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