TUMBY BAY - Many writers, especially creative writers, use fiction and poetry as a kind of therapy.
For these people, and I’m one of them, writing about matters of concern or anxiety - be they personal, political or otherwise - can be as effective as visiting a psychiatrist or some similar therapist.
Instead of lying on a couch in a consulting room and letting it all hang out for someone else to fix, writers can direct their angst onto the written page.
In doing so they self-manage what is bothering them and, in the process of sharing their writing, can help other people who might be affected by the same concerns.
Whether this greater impact occurs may depend upon the situation the writer is addressing.
On matters that are troubling others, however, what is written can offer insights, confirmation, consolation or simple recognition of feelings that another person shares.
On the bigger canvas of a book, as distinct from those written to make money or satisfy an enlarged ego, works of personal disclosure can have much greater meaning and impact for the reader.
Just like fake news, however, there are also fake books. They are easy to spot.
The most exploitive are those that seek to capitalise on personal events that may have already captured public interest, especially in the sensationalist and scandalous world of the tabloid press.
Drug traffickers who have served time in a prison overseas, celebrities and sports stars who have ruined their reputations in some way and politicians trying to excuse their appalling careers are prime abusers of this form of exposé.
They are trying to recover lost ground and restore their reputations – and probably make some money on the side.
These people (often helped by ghost writers because they themselves lack the requisite skills) are essentially writing fiction.
True fiction mostly borrows from real events or is inspired by books already written.
But the fiction these people write, or have ghost written, make genuine fiction writers, novelists, cringe with embarrassment.
The main imperative for authentic fiction writers is the process of imagining, analysing and transforming their thoughts into a convincing narrative.
Many writers of fiction seem to lead lives that are comfortable and untroubled.
If you read biographies of these writers, you will see how they drifted through life happily and contented. Writing can be as soothing as the most efficacious drug.
Consider the travails of a writer like the late Francis Nii. His novels and poetry allowed him to examine his own life and those around him and gave him the precious serenity that he took to his grave.
There was no wailing and anger at the close of Francis’s time on earth day. There was serenity and consideration for others.
It is a lesson worth thinking about.
If you ever find yourself buried deep in a pit of angst and emotion try writing your way out.
Never mind the sword, the pen is sometimes mightier than the spade.
The collected short-form works of Francis Nii are available here on PNG Attitude as a free download