Motivation to Write Fiction

What has caused me to talk about writing fiction? The answer has to do with the challenge and the learning. Let me try to explain.

Fiction writing arose for me when I told a friend some stories about my work in remote Aboriginal communities. She suggested that I write them down, before I forgot them. I did and the stories lost their lustre. The pathos and humour died because there was no contxt, like I could add orally or with body language or the occasional photo.

I made the decision to write a novel and to give a context to these stories and include them when the opportunity arose. All well and good in terms of thinking, but after spending years writing research reports, it was much harder than I thought. A great mentor of mine in research once told me, “Dave, in the research game, when you report,  you tell people what you’re going to tell them, you tell them, and then you tell them what you told them.”

I began my career in fiction writing using that process, and spent something like three years unlearning that. My dedication to precision and logical progression were impediments in writing fiction. As a new mentor put it, “let people use their imaginations and allow them the capacity to interpret. Don’t treat them like students in a classroom and give them the right answer.”

The unlearning process continues for me, but through it, I have also learned to polish: to re-read, and re-read and re-read searching for little gems that allow for individual imagination and interpretation, in finding repetition where I never knew it existed, and errors in character actions echo loudly in the corridors of each novel’s broader context.desert pond

In terms of allowing for imagination and interpretation, the recently published The Wiluna Solution has three especially important characters; Gabriel who is an Aborigine, Clarrie Watson who is the gardener at the Hospital, and Mr O’Halloran who manages a gold mine. The urge to explain the traits and characteristics of all three was almost irresistible, but but with some prodding from a mentor and good deal of personal self-controI managed to resist. Early readers of the book have proven my mentor to be right. One reader said, “There was just enough mystique with Gabriel, Clarrie and Mr O’Halloran and not too much need for explanations of the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. I liked that.”