Keeping ajar the door to madness.


Originally I wanted to talk about perception, the whole “how do we know who we are, if every body’s view of us is tainted by personal perception, even our own” topic. It seems to have hijacked my mind, causing me to copy down random phrases and quotes that somehow pertain to how people perceive each other, how we perceive ourselves and the impact of such perception upon who we are. However, I realise now, after two days of jotting, and scribbling and not having a clue what I am talking about, that my thoughts on this subject are way too scattered for me to make any sense of. So I’ll wait a while, talk to some enlightened friends, and hopefully come back to this topic with a little more intelligence. 

Let me instead introduce you to the world I write in, the world that exists on the other side of what Christopher Morely quoted as being the door to madness, the door I believe is shared by poets and writers alike.   

As a child I made many attempts at writing a best selling novel. When I was ten I started writing a babysitters-clubesque novel about a bunch of girls going on a trip around the world. The problem I found was that the farthest I had travelled from my little pine forest town of Mount Gambier, was the equally exciting and slightly more foresty tiny town of Kybybolite. Hmm, not much experience there to base a “trip around the world” novel on. 

Then there was the crime novel… and what a suspenseful page-turner that would have turned out to be – a crime was committed, someone stole something from the two-dollar shop, or something similar I think… 

Based on the failure of my crime stories, travel fiction, eighteenth century feminist writing (I know! Where did that come from?), and a few other genre of writing due to my inexperience, I didn’t have the heart to try romance. So to spite myself I wrote something I really knew nothing about – the pterodactyl that had pecked his way through my window in a dream I had once, then came the monstrous hippopotamus type creature with no eyes that chased us out of the mossy black waters of an anonymous lagoon (a monster from another dream and whose image is still as clear as a photo in my mind even to this day.) Eventually I had written a few, found I could get to the end of them, and when I reread them I actually didn’t want to throw them in the bin like my others. I had found my world. 

So now this world, which doesn’t really exist, is the setting for most of my writing. In it, humans wander, either having no idea that terror, or magic will happen just around the corner, or they shiver in fear of the things happening in their own imaginations. The cities are huge and shiny on one side of the world, fast paced, full of doctors with amazing abilities to make genetic discoveries that could never happen in the real world and people from other planets, the forests on the other side are dark, shadowy and green and inhabited by things that only the wildest of imaginations can dream. Some antics of the inhabitants make it to paper, some of it stays in my head, and occasionally this world pops up in my dreams. If I’m writing about it, I need to keep a curtain over it, shielding readers from the most astonishing parts of it, so that they can believe that what is happening can happen. You see in that world, things happen that most would find impossible to believe, and that would ruin the story. 

So there you go, a brief introduction to my alternate world. Perhaps one day one of the amazing stories that happen there will make it commercial and you will be able to visit it yourself, perhaps not. Either way, it will always be there, as fantastic and unbelievable as a world can possibly be. My world.  


~ by Alissa Anderton on April 30, 2010.

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