Life. A funny old thing that each being to step foot on this magnificent sphere of miracles we call home has in common. We have all lived a life, with the details of said life differing enormously to the next person, being unique to us and us only.
“Errr, what is this? A writing blog or a philosophy lecture?”
Maybe it’s a bit of both. You see, as somebody who, from an outsider's perspective, is considered to be an average individual, I have lived through an absolute rollercoaster of events, from the day I was born until the here and now. My unremarkable days of normality and functional routine are grossly outnumbered by the ones that could leave even the most seasoned of storytellers in a state of disbelief.
Believe me when I say my best work isn't fiction.
And I embrace every second of it.
Blame it on being born with a head in the clouds, persistently searching for a time and place that’s existence is implausible, yet continuing on despite all odds, or perhaps label me a ‘drama queen’ and be done with it. Whatever the reasoning may be, I’ve always been magnetized to the most absurd elements of life, noticing the strange little details that would pass most by with a blink. Curiosity for the bizarre is encoded in my DNA, I live and breathe it, so it makes perfect sense that the stories I tell reflect this.
For familiarities sake, throughout this piece I’m going to be focusing on my primary genres of interest - Science-Fiction, Dystopian & Fantasy - however the concepts unraveled here are not in any way limited to those with the same preferences as the process of understanding the deeper meaning of why we write what we do is universal and can be applied to any genre or scenario.
Saying that, seeing as my creative work and top-three entertainment choices are smothered in exuberance, I’ll admit, genres such as comedy, romance and soap-opera drama bore the brains out of me. I have never been able to sit back, relax or feel any relation to the characters, whether it be on screen or through pages, unless the circumstances that bombard them aren’t ones of mystery, adventure and the impossible.
For longer than I’m comfortable to come to terms with, I held onto a warped perception of why this was, genuinely believing anything that wasn’t exploratively existential - in other words jam-packed with immaculate worlds, hyper-intelligent aliens and heated debates on the meaning of life - was not worth watching.
This fact in itself says so much about the inner workings of my psyche and the way it connects to the understanding I hold of myself, how I interact with the world and how I express my most devouring of fears. Putting these elements into words has allowed me to decode parts of myself that had never seen the light of day, providing me with an oddly therapeutic sense of relief as I release from my inner creative system stagnant energies that have been flaming for years.
The zeitgeist of depressing stories
It’s always the end of the world in some way or another, right?
The collective has an undeniable fascination with the end of the world, hostile extraterrestrials, infectious diseases, catastrophic disasters and all the rest of it. All of these scenarios are absolutely horrendous and it would be beyond ludicrous to want to manifest them, so why do myself and so many others lap it up like golden milk?
I can’t speak for everyone else, but from a personal standpoint, I believe my intolerance for anything realistic is thoroughly related to my slightly nihilistic upbringing. I was the black sheep in whatever flock I was trying to invade, be it infant school, boarding school, youth club, man, even the emo club at the library and I was the biggest emo kid going!
Add an undying anger at a corrupt governing system into the mix and we might be close to an explanation for my love of dystopia. Again, using the same formula, if we consider my persistent inability to feel at home on my own planet and amongst my fellow peers, my interest in absorbing and creating new worlds suddenly makes a lot more sense.
It is frustrating that the majority of titles in my main genres of interest are all seeped in themes of chaos, injustice, death, and finding a feel-good Sci-Fi is a mission and a half, a true act of a miracle (recommendations always welcome in my inbox, by the way!). On a personal level, my morbid interests make perfect sense, but can the same presumptions be applied collectively?
Yes, yes they can.
We are living in troubling times, the future of the planet is wildly uncertain and those that have the ability to stop us steering off track are too focused on short-term profit to do anything about it. So yes, I think it’s safe to say that as a collective most of us have experienced eco-anxiety to some extent. When we lay it out like this, my point of focus is clear as day:
Our world is a ticking time bomb and other than raising awareness there’s not a grand amount we as individuals can do apart from relying on the powers that be and hoping for the best.
We are suppressed, society has taught us if we can’t do anything about it then it’s not worth the stress, so we sit idle, shoving those nasty thoughts of insecurity further and further back.
As a subconscious need to express these concerns in a safe way, also known as, you guessed it, our old friend, fiction…
As doom and gloom as this particular topic may be, the observation that Dystopian media exists to the extent it does has more positive connotations than you might think. The sheer popularity of these pieces indicates the awareness of the issues addressed on a global scale and the attention they garner can be viewed as a sturdy measuring device for society’s ‘give a damn factor’ as a whole.
Whether this directly relates to you or not, my angle should be clear enough now for you to understand how this thought process can be applied in your personal writing journey, which leads me to…
“What does that mean for us, as authors?”
WRITING IS A FORM OF THERAPY -
I alchemize events in my life into science-fictional metaphors
My obsession with lower dimensional entities harvesting the energy of mankind reflects my feelings of powerlessness against the all-to-real oppressors of our world.
Have you ever had such an intense emotional reaction to a situation that you couldn’t help but adapt it and include it within your stories in some way, or another? Come on, don’t try to tell me you have never based a character on an obnoxiously-extravagant nuisance of a person that you just had to add an inch to their nose and crown them with a name as agitating as their personality.
Whether it be characters, events, locations or lines of dialogue, it is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it’s wonderfully freeing, and if you haven’t, which I find hard to believe, you should give it a try. Seriously.
I have found some of the most profound healing experiences of my life to come through putting words to a page as a means to analyze what led up to the occurrence of a situation, what it means in the grand scheme of things and how I can use this information to recover from any negativity it may have caused in my life and prevent it from repeating in the future.
Now, this doesn’t mean basing every antagonist we write on an in-the-flesh nemesis, no not at all, and I strongly advise against doing so, incorporating true-events into our work is a platform of experimentation and discovery that has no limits, not a quick-fire way for a slandering lawsuit.
With this perspective, creative writing could be named as an impersonal form of journaling, and for me, that’s exactly what it is. All my feelings of resentment towards an unfair and disillusioned world are embedded into my fiction, acting as both a source of inspiration and a motivator, simultaneously.
It’s insatiably rare that I am faced with writer's block, especially when it comes to birthing a new idea as whenever I find myself lost, all I have to do is revisit certain experiences in my own life, stories that have had emotional impact on me or the long list of things I’d change about the world if the authority was in my hands, and in no time, I’m full of ideas and ready to take on anything.
That’s how it works for me, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. At the end of the day I’m writing for an audience and whose right is it to paint all Sci-Fi & Fantasy fans with the same brush and assume that they too share the same insatiable flames and pet-hates as I? Definitely not me. However, judging by the distinct nature of the genres, it is fair to speculate that me and my fans will share a few of the same opinions, or at least basic feelings.
It is of the utmost importance that we weave the subjects of our passion alongside topics and tropes that our desired audience’s will appreciate, creating an end product which allows room for our inner demon to scream abdabs at societies shortfalls, whilst resonating with others who share similar scopes of the same feelings, but maybe to less extremities.
Don't forget, the foundational concept here is universal.
So what about the zeitgeist of other genres?
As vital as it is, the end of the world is not the only aspect of life that affects us. Forgive me for stating the obvious again, but the most magical component of human existence is that as much as we are made up of identical physical matter and assumedly the exact same number of atoms; no two beings are the same. Diversity is the fuel of life and we can’t all share the obsession of doomsaying.
Take romance for example, a genre I know minimal about, which is why I chose to touch upon it, as my calculations are based purely on speculation and not personal involvement. Romance is incredibly sought after for a million reasons of which there is need for me to expand on today, instead, I’m going to leave you with a couple of theories and leave the rest up to you.
We all want to be loved, whether that burning desire runs our lives or not, deep down in our core, it is part of human nature and rightly so, we all deserve love, yes, even you right back over there in the corner, you too deserve love!
For it is the absence of love that succumbs us to the worst things in life…
Anyway, tangents aside, let’s not turn this into a romance column.
If we long for the heart fluttering, soulful comforts of true love, why is it when you go to all-the-rage reader hubs such as Tiktok, topics like forbidden lovers, toxic badboys and deceitful heartbreak seem to be all the rage?
Simply put, the answer is unique to the individual and it could be anything that represents a part of the psyche that is dying to be let out and wreck its unresolved internal havoc in said person's life.
My answer to why I always feel the funny tingles when a jerk of a love interest is introduced and the heroine has to pick between the steady option and the whirlwind, is because for a large part of my introductory years into adulthood, I was in a very secure relationship with a down to earth, humble man that would have made the world stop so I could step off if I had asked him.
A relationship with no conflict and no drama - unless I was the one causing it - honestly, it was perfect and idealistic in so many ways to so many people. I believe that it’s only natural that over time my brain developed a need to explore the alternatives through fiction, to peer through the eyes of someone less fortunate, as a reminder of all the blessings I sometimes didn‘t appreciate as much as I could have.
May your creative expression bring you abundance in every area of your life.
Writing always has been multidimensional for me, it’s never been a hobby or a career I wouldn’t mind having, no, it’s always been a platform for exploring every inch of the inner workings of my world, to turning the negativity I’ve clutched onto in fear of nothing else taking its place, into the purest form of self-love and compassion.
The stories I write may be based in future lands of interdimensional invasion and in no way do they relate to the events of my day-to-day life, yet it is through the exploration of these possibilities that the true themes that haunt my subconscious with prominence make themselves known, and it is through this knowing that I have been granted the opportunity to learn, heal and grow.
Written for The Plottery
F. Abika, otherwise known as the hopeful dystopian, is a neurodivergent, all-round creative from Brighton, UK. Born with a head stuck in a realm that doesn’t exist, F has had her head stuck in a screen ever since the moment she was old enough to turn one on. Creative writing has always been an escape from a world that lacked the ability to understand a mind such as hers and after a lifetime of dilly-dallying around future pathways, she has finally settled and is working towards her debut novel Ethereall, the first of a trilogy.