“‘The proper stuff of fiction’ does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss.”
Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 154. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.
I couldn’t agree more with this essay, and this summarizing quote. For me, this idea that fiction is what you make it and not what you’re told it is, is one that I struggle with. Not that I don’t stand behind it to the fullest, but, as I intend to teach creative writing classes someday, I’ve been finding it difficult to decide how I can teach a craft that comes from the heart and soul rather than a defined method or period of time. Of course there will never quite be an answer to my woes, but it’s great to know that my viewpoint is shared by so many I admire.
“Consider the matter from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence.”
Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. page 40-41. Internet
This idea that nature is our creation, and not the other way around, really blew my mind. It makes complete sense on so many levels. I find it particularly relevant to my studies at the moment as I’m taking a class on Sensation and Perception, and have been spending a great deal of time contemplating how we perceive the world around us. How much of it is a construct of our mind, and how much, if any, is a universal reality? While I’d been thinking that one of the most important factors that push us to certain perceptions are our life experiences , I can see how Art appears to be a large, if not the largest, subset of those experiences. This was a fantastic reading!