by Davis Horner
During the past five years I have discovered the meaning of change in an intimate way. It means mortality. It’s the reason I write.
We move through time and space. This movement is, among other descriptions, a movement toward aging and ultimately, death. It is relentless. It is inevitable. Sometimes it is infuriating.
I was a busy writer when I was young. I had hopes of making a career of it, but I made the fateful choice (for me) not to continue in academics. That was because I had to figure out how to survive. That’s what I continued doing for twenty years.
Five years ago I made the acquaintance of the mortality which I consider to be the central fact of change. That’s when I started to write again. For one thing, I had become suddenly limited in the number and range of things I could actually do, due to physical limitations. For another, I discovered – probably for the first time – that writing was a way to create another place to live. I’m not sure I really like the way the current life is designed. To me it has significant flaws. When I write fiction I make a new or different place. I may or may not change the rules – it depends on the story. But if I want to I can.
One reason I write is to forestall the inevitability of change and mortality. I don’t mean that people don’t die or suffer in my stories. They do. But in an important sense they can live forever. This is an obvious feature of literature. So I try to find a time, a place, characters, and events that can be memorialized, made permanent, indelible. I mark one of those points in time and space and pause. I change names and details. Sometimes I lie, which is something all fiction writers do. Actually I’m tempted to say all writers lie… but that’s for another piece. When I lie it is often to redeem something in this flawed cosmos. Sometimes, more selfishly, I lie in order to repair one or two of the many regrets I have carried or mistakes I have made.
“These fragments I have shored against my ruins.” I might echo the words of Eliot in “The Wasteland,” but that’s only part of why I do this. If I am somehow granted the time and space I want to make something durable, something of value. I hope to make something that will, in fact, live beyond me. It’s impossible to say whether this will be so. We can only give the best we have. But perhaps, like a gem that has been eroded, buffeted, tumbled, roughly abraded of its edges, it may shine.
Davis Horner studied elves at Furman University, and has been a staff features writer for various tabloids and newspapers. He became a writer as a young man, quit in disgust to become a musician, and now is writing again. He has had stories placed recently at Scrutiny, Foliate Oak, Gravel, and Furious Gazelle. He lives in Greenville, SC, with his wife and two cats. His wife and one of the cats are internationally famous. He is not. His Twitter is @scphrogg. His Facebook is Davis Horner – Writer.