Writing: art or craft?

Since a very young age I have been fascinated with words and the world of the imagination – a fascination that has never left me.  I always wanted to write fiction but earning a living and bringing up a family meant that there was no time left for doing what I thought of as a personal indulgence.  Even when I found myself with more time on my hands I did not have the confidence to write a novel, that is until I did a creative writing course with the OU.  Words came easily to me and I found that writing fiction was as much a craft as writing reports and dissertations.  You organise the words to achieve a specific effect. 

When I started to write my first novel, I found that it was impossible to write without dipping into my personal experiences, taking character traits from people I knew, using locations with which I was familiar and even inter-personal scenarios that I had encountered.  Someone once said that ‘a writer should write about what he knows.’  Whether you think this is true or not, I find that an accumulation of education and experience easily overflows into my writing; it is impossible to stop it.  My love of social history, for example, means that many of my stories are set in the past but I find that the characters in those stories experience the same inter-relationship problems as their modern counterparts.  History teaches you that there is nothing new; we have all been there before.  For me, the joy of writing fiction lies in the ability to create a whole new world, peopled with characters of my own making.  As a child I never played with dolls but I’m sure this is the grown-up version of it.


Joan Fallon is a writer and novelist living in Spain.