Been thinking about writing style. More specifically, how writing styles change over the years. I have a friend who always reads ‘first’ novels before she’ll read any others from the same writer. She says it’s important to see where writers have come from.
As she and I have discussed before, even if we don’t write fiction every day, we do write, which is the main thing. We write emails – sometimes long and convoluted ones which surely have our friends tapping their desks and wondering when in the heck we’re going to tire of the sound of our own keyboard – and then of course there’s blogging. (Does Tweeting count?)
It’s hard not to wonder if writing style somehow reflects the various stages on the journey of the writer’s soul but, then again, how can that be? Is there any truth in words? Aren’t they just constructs, approximations? The shadow on the wall?
We look different when the light changes, we dress differently in different circumstances. We write differently for different occasions.
I am thinking of writers like Iain Banks, who writes cross-genre. Iain Banks for fiction, Iain M. Banks for sci-fi. There are numerous other, more dramatic, examples, and it doesn’t mean they have multiple personality disorders. For some, it enables them to write in more than one genre because our brains like to pigeon-hole people (as do publicity machines and the media: how else will you get a good story?).
We like to put people firmly in boxes while, at the same time, we know we will always be complex and dynamic.
Zygmunt Bauman might put it down to fear of the stranger, or fear of unknowns, because we need to place others in order to place ourselves.
Could it be that the further away we get from a lived experience, the further we get from truth? I saw a lovely quote on the end of a random post on a mailing list yesterday: No-one ever dreams and lives. In this age of social media, silence can be death for business or personal branding.
An interesting conundrum.