I’ve never wanted to punch people more than these past few weeks: never wanted to actually feel the crunch of someone’s bones on my knuckles. Never wanted to really hurt someone who deserved it. So I invented some people to punch, and then I invented a person to punch them, and sent the script to some writers I respect. It’s not much, but at least I can get out of bed. I made other people believe I could write the punch, and they in turn believed the punch was there.
I too have thought if we stopped living in stories, perhaps we would go outside and do the things that must be done. That we would understand more what it is to undertake action. To know what it is to really labour. Would I not rather lobby in person for justice, than write about justice?
But the death of our imagination is the death of the self. The death of the future. If we cannot imagine how things could be, how can we reach towards it? How could we structure discontent?
Sometimes I feel the hot grip of silence around my imagination, and it is from the morass of the internet, of what they call ‘disagreement’, willing me not to say what I want. But it is not ‘disagreement’. It is hatred and fear that is dressed up as accountability. So few people who have hatred are asked to be held accountable for its actions. Everyone who is powerless against it is asked to pay.
Sometimes I am asked to work on stories where nothing is done but picking at what people do not want from the story. ‘I do not want this, I do not want this’, it is said. But once you have picked out everything you do not want in a plan, there is nothing in the story worth telling. It is going backwards. There is nothing but a skeleton with no flesh that cannot walk. Choose the parts of the story that are beautiful and nurture them only, like pruning off the shoots of a bonsai to keep the main branches growing strong.
What is it you do want? And how can you make it grow? What excites you and galvanises you? What makes you get up in the morning? What has you want again?
It is okay to cling to fiction. It lights a fire that stokes the future. It is written in prehistoric caves, underneath skin, and in the quietest of our children. The only thing that is left to do is to walk towards the stories we want and decline to stop for anything.