Escapology… and the Secret of Fascination

Here’s an interesting question I’ve never really answered, not even to myself if I’m honest…

Why do you write?

The answer?

Escapology.

First and foremost (and don’t hate me for the unutterable bluntness of this statement) I write to escape the world, or rather the rat’s maze we made of it, because it is unbearable. There, I said it. I don’t get this treadmill we’ve created. Its square buildings and life-swallowing careers and mortgages, its pension plans, motorways and package holidays, its high street clothing, media obsession with celebrity, its brittle plastic shell surrounding a tasteless, chewy centre of pretty much nothing in particular. It horrifies me. I loathe, despise and abhor it. I wonder how on earth anyone bears to live in it at all.

It’s all so prescribed, so pre-packaged, so relentlessly monotonous and dull. I think of the scenes in Metropolis, worker ant humans going out and doing the same thing every day, day after day. Nightmarish. And this is what humanity dreamt for itself? I think not. I think some dark and entirely venomous section of humanity dreamt up this particular hamster wheel of horrors. And I wonder at the lack of revulsion in it. The acceptance of the mill. It is a millstone and it seems to drag humanity further down into its own ruin every single day.

So I do now as I’ve always done. I escape it. Into my own head or into movies or books. Mostly by reading books. And so it became almost a natural instinct to want to create my own worlds to escape into. My own collection of word-worlds. But look at the worlds I make when I do this. I’m aware some people find them plain old off-putting. They’re weird. But then, they would be, I’ve always been a little sideways on the world. A square peg, a stuck out thumb. Not exactly an easy person, to say the least. I prefer my own company – not because I think I’m special or anything (exact opposite to be honest) – but because people bewilder me.

I always feel there’s something I’m missing. Some subtext that I’m simply not picking up on and I can see that it can be seen. It’s noticeable. I alienate people with my strangeness, my not-them-ness. It’s not just the things that will, all unbidding, pop straight out of my brain without benefit of a filter; it’s my aloofness, my separateness.  I’ve been told it appears to be indicative of  arrogance, self-importance, seeing myself better than others. It’s not. I’m just sitting there, lost in the wilderness of the world, in a social jungle of signs and signals that mean about as much to me as Cyrillic and thinking ‘what the hell?’. I don’t belong here. This place is alien to me. It makes no sense, the inhabitants make no sense. None whatsoever.

So, what does this have to do with writing to escape an unbearable world I hear you cry? Go on… you know you’re curious. To be blunt (again – it is habitual), I write to make worlds that make sense to me. Worlds where I understand the motivations, secret fears, delights and woes of the populace, worlds where I don’t feel wrong-footed and lost at every turn. Where I feel that I am finally communicating in a way that is understood and being communicated with in a way I can comprehend. Where I know the rules, can bend, stretch and break them to my satisfaction without provoking censure or outright revilement. It’s that simple and it’s not simple at all, as I’m driven to make this my life, my career. Which means I have to do all this whilst making you all eager to keep reading. That’s the hard part.

This is because much of what I write can appear as alien to those whom I am writing for as the world around me and the people in it appear to me. I may as well be shouting at you all in some demented glossolalia for all the sense I must be making. My worlds are plain weird, the people in them, plain even weirder. Take the Umwelt hidden within the walls of this very blog for instance. It’s populated by huge-titted, downright gorgeous, delicious sexual predators with unlikely magical abilities who seem almost entirely unmoved, even delighted, by the whole hell of a lot of bizarre they happily trot into. I know these people and their world seem outrageous, impossible, too brash, too ballsy and too downright rude. I know the language I write in is dense, overly poetic, demands concentration and involvement. I know these things, and I know how off-putting, how difficult, they can make my work.

But they also make it entirely different… and really, that may well be the whole point. If your world makes little or no sense to me, then my worlds are going to be the same for you. No question about it. But see, I’m hoping that underneath all that madness and unreality and weird you find the same thing that keeps me wanting to be part of this world no matter how little it makes sense to me or how unwilling it appears to be to welcome me into its enfold. And there’s a very simple reason for that… the second reason why I write.

Fascination.

I also write because I look out into the world, past the confusion of social connection, past the unknowability of people, past the bits I just don’t seem to be able to make head nor tale of, and I see such unbelievable beauty, such formidable horrors, that they leave me breathless.

The world is stranger by far than anything I could dream up. Magical, eccentric, downright incredible. It’s overwhelming in its endless wonders and I’ve placed that fascination I have smack bang in amongst my catalogue of weird, and it informs every last nuance. Like every other writer out there, I’m that mirror reflecting the world, trying to entice you to come and look, to let go, to escape just for a moment into your own fascination.

It’s different there’s no doubt, rearranged into a Renification if you will – seen through the filter of my doubtless very unlikely mind. Just as you’ll, in turn, filter it through your very unlikely minds (after all, we’re all of us strange and alien underneath). But, if you’re prepared to take the time, it’s not so unrecognisable that you’ll miss it. I don’t make it easy, needless to say. Not just because I’m writing as a response to my own confusion and from that unavoidable standpoint, but because I’m trying to get you understand your own innate weird and wonderfulness as I see them. I’m trying to show you the secret to my fascination.

Writing is my way of communicating my fascination with the world even as I weave myself a burrow of words to hide from it in. I am, in turns, horrified and fascinated. Appalled and compelled. And when you read my work, enter my word-worlds, fall into that White Rabbit-esque burrow my mind has constructed, I’m hoping you might just feel the same. That you perhaps begin to see things my way… that, ultimately, we might better understand one another.

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2 thoughts on “Escapology… and the Secret of Fascination

  1. Ren, you are one of the best writers I’ve “met.” Your City of Hell story totally enthralled me. I love your “overly poetic” writing, your way with words. Yes, it *does* demand concentration, and I think that’s a sign of true greatness. All the writers I really respect require the reader’s full attention, so I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It means the story is deep and twisted, with hidden meaning that must be sussed. I see things the way you do through your words, and I LOVE that! Keep being weird, my friend. Keep writing the way you do. I get it. 🙂

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