Writing Is A Cop-Out

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
by Jill Earl

It’s said that Monica Dickens, writer and great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens once declared, “Writing is a cop-out. An excuse to live perpetually in fantasyland, where you can create, direct and watch the products of your own head. Very selfish.”

A rather interesting view on a negative term. I recall once of those ‘selfish’ incidents in high school, where I majored in art and English. In one particular class, I was so bored as I stared out of a window, I pulled out my sketch book and began drawing.

My teacher’s exclamations roused me as she reached for my pad. After the encounter, I slumped in my seat, apprehensive about the after-school meeting. Peeping into the classroom, I found her engrossed in the drawing I created: a pair of daydreaming teenaged aliens staring out the window of their classroom.

Her comment? “You definitely don’t see the same things we see when you look out the window, do you!” My sketch book was returned and I escaped with a warning, along with a promise to keep her updated on the exploits of my teen aliens.

I admit to extended stays in the fantasyland Ms. Dickens mentioned earlier. I’ve delighted in directing the ‘products of my head’ as I’ve created radio drama scripts, articles, the (very) occasional poem, short stories, and the like.

Visits to this enchanted place will continue as I grow in my craft. I guess I could be considered a cop-out, and I think I’m okay with that.

What about you? Do you think writing is a cop-out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Analisa said...

Writing a cop out? I don't think so. When I hit hard times or feel ill reading something enjoyable helps. It is a break. Its only a cop out if you ignore the life around you.

What starts as a daydream in my head soon becomes work as I put it on down on paper. Controlling the world in my head? I wonder,my characters often go places I would prefer them not to. Do things against my advice and say things I would not dare. :)

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Betsy said...

"Cop out" -what does that even mean? There is no such thing. Whatever activity you find yourself engaged in whether it is passing items through the checkout, writing stories, or being a highly paid business-person It doesn't essentially matter. Life is too short to not do what you enjoy, and what you are good at, just because of someone else's secondhand values. We pretend that some things are more important than others because we want our own "mission" to be valid. It's only because we're threatened that we put others down.
Language is so much of how society is built, and writing is essential for circulating ideas and expressing our take on the world, both fiction and non fiction equally so.
Apart from that, i just think it's great fun -and we all could do with a bit of that!

Kim said...

Never a cop-out.
An escape? Sometimes.
Always a pleasure!

Kerrie said...

I would say no since I mostly write about actual events. :)

Literary Cowgirl said...

It certainly isn't an escape for me. I often dig a knife deep into my psyche and pick it apart. Writing is very exhausting for me, but it is a compulsion.

I don't think I am the only one that feels this way. I have a friend who wrote a book about his mental illness and ultimate breakdown, which was a very difficult thing for him, I am sure. He know plans on writing about his Finland. I've read the first ms, and I can tell you, when he says writing it pushed him over the edge again, I can see why.

I guess it depends on what you are writing. But, it isn't always escapism. Sometimes it is standing infront of a semi-truck called reality, and letting it hit you.

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