After an afternoon of reading Victorian poetry, my mind has been working overload and has me thinking – why do we really write, or read for that matter? Who are our stories, poems and works of literature aimed at? Are they introspective works just for us to look back on and admire, or do we want them in the public domain for people to review, like or criticise?
Stories I hear of writers having epiphanies before they write their greatest works or some great inspiration such as a vision or a dream always leave me wondering:
Where do writers truly get their material from?
It’s not as if authors dream of something that has absolutely no connection to them whatsoever. Different psychologists from Freud to Jung all have their own theories on that topic. I know I have had some of the weirdest dreams that would give Stephen King a run for his money. I also know that my dreams are a consequence of something I had been watching or doing earlier that day or week. Something which has been playing on my mind and causing me to dream of a crazy dystopian world with walking machines and green people making gloop for dinner.
Other writers draw on life experience, some disastrous love story or traumatic childhood experience. What about those authors who have seemingly ‘normal’ childhoods that go on to create amazing works of literature?
Maybe it is because so many of the best-selling authors all have one thing in common- they all write straight from the heart!!
Diaries are fantastic, they give us a personal insight into someone’s life, what they’re thinking and what happened during the course of their day; but do they truly give us an absolute insight into someone’s feelings, ideas, internal desires, wants, and needs. When someone writes a diary, do they truly write it for themselves for no one else to ever read or look at? Then why write it out at all?
Is that not what we do when we look at different critics of literary sources? We try to figure out what the author ‘truly’ meant. We look at the works from different perspectives and we take it into context, taking into account, personal, social, cultural and political contexts, including gender and religion. We analyse what we think the author was thinking when they wrote the piece of literature.
Why do we do this?
Why can we not take a beautiful piece of poetry, a novel, a short story or even a song, for what it is?
Why do we need to know the meaning behind it?
Why can’t we just enjoy it for what it is?
Are we reading too much into works of literature, over analysing, or over-thinking?
What is the answer? I know I don’t have one, do you?
Is it a consequence of human nature to just question absolutely everything?
If so, I think I need to applaud anyone out there who has ever put a piece of writing in the public domain, as you have shared a piece of your mind, heart, and soul with everyone who is willing to read. No one has to like your writing; your thoughts need not make sense to anyone but you.
If I have learned anything from the lecture today on Victorian literature, and the poetry of Alfred Tennyson, it is to write what your heart desires and if people like it, it’s a bonus, if not then, so be it.