Writing is about writers and readers going on a journey together. The journey is beautiful in and of itself. And there might not be an end. But what’s important is the reason why we’re journeying together. We’re on a journey to unravel our own individual purpose in life.
Literature has replaced religion. It is a natural consequence of the Enlightenment. In the past religion dictated to people a uniform purpose. Your purpose is to serve God, to die for Him, to reach the kingdom of heaven, to follow Jesus or spread the word of the Prophet.
Purpose in a religious sense is fascistic. It expects human beings, who are as different as continents, to live their lives in divine uniform. It cannot happen and should not happen.
Literature is a humbler pursuit. Fiction tells readers: we don’t know a god-damn thing, so let’s go out on a journey and see what we find.
Not knowing is the necessary impetus for travel. Curiosity is the fertile soil for the grandest achievements.
Literature also tells readers, listen, I’m not giving you answers. I’m taking you on a journey but you have to make your own conclusions. There is no arrogance to literature, although a writer needs to be secretly arrogant.
I’m an arrogant writer because arrogance breeds confidence. And I need to be confident to confront readers and tell them, look, here is where you should look for answers. Writers are arrogant so they can instill universal humility.
I’m a minimalist writer because my writing is humble. I trust my readers. I don’t want to construct entire worlds in my fiction. Only snippets of something greater. I want to tantalise readers and make them want to explore, which is the greatest endeavor our species can undertake.
If I’m going to show a man seeking answers in a foreign city, I don’t want describe the layout, structure and history of the city. I’d rather make it a strip show. The city, like a stripper, dancing, slowly stripping, giving hints of nudity, and then pulling away just as the bra comes off. I want them to seek out the city to see its most intimate side.
Travel is a repeated theme in my writing. I can arrogantly state that travel is the humblest way for a human being to seek out his own individual, customised purpose. When we travel, we are stripped bare of our comforts. We see things without a filter. We question, we dare ask and reflect.
What we do when we travel is more revelatory than any falsely-induced religious experience.
I write a lot about childhood too. As children our Fate, who we are, what we’ll be, is always in question, always at the forefront of the minds of those around us. No one ever goes up to a forty-year-old and asks him: what do you want to be when you grow up?
Well writers do.
I’ve learned a lot about myself through reading. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Murakami, Rimbaud – they’ve all pointed me in the right direction for me to continue exploring. I hope one day, readers will say the same about what I write.
There’s something paternal about writing. Writers look to their readers as their surrogate children. And I don’t mean that in a patronizing way. There is nothing demeaning about being a child. But we want to know where your paths are taking you. So the next time you have the opportunity to meet a writer whose work you’ve read, let them know about your journey.