Writing: the Great Escape?

If you’ve ever read a book and enjoyed it, you’ll be familiar with the feeling of slipping into the pages of a novel. Reading a good book feels like an escape. It is a release from the daily burden of an ordinary, contained life and an ordinary, contained self. Writing, too, is a solitary act, and arguably necessitates escape. Comparing reading and writing, Susan Sontag wrote: “Like reading, rapturous reading, writing fiction – inhabiting other selves – feels like losing yourself too.” There are as many kinds of writers as there are books, but all writers share the desire – or at…

Book Review: Ursula Le Guin’s The Earthsea Quartet

I confess. I read the Earthsea Quartet because of a quote on the cover of the new edition. (The cover also looked more ‘literary’ and less ‘genre’ – and that appealed to me, although I’d like to believe it didn’t.) The quote read: “J.K. Rowling can type, but Le Guin can write.” An unfair quote, but it appealed to me because I read the first Harry Potter book and failed to get caught up in Rowling’s world (though I have seen every movie.) But as I started reading Earthsea, I was struck by the beauty of the writing. And it wasn’t just about the…

Do we write to escape ourselves or to find ourselves?

In writing about the way they see the world, are writers writing about themselves? And is this something to be avoided or embraced? Arguably, even though we call it fiction, writing good stories and novels is about capturing truths, truths that readers can relate to and empathise with. In writing fiction, writers learn to portray the world around us. Are they also learning to find out who they are? Everything we observe is coloured by our consciousness. When we write, we draw material from deep inside our minds, from places that make us who we are. Where memory, experience, bias, instinct, and…