Wednesday 13 December 2017

What Writes Me

Writing fiction is quite weird. Don’t get me wrong, telling stories is as human as putting melted cheese on things, but there are plenty of true stories to be told. Riveting tales of courage, adventure, romance, and all the evil you could ever stomach. Stories that actually happened to real people, chock full of life lessons, that can be far more outlandish than even the most creative minds can concoct. So why is it that we insist on making stories up? And even more confusingly, why, as readers, do we attach to fiction as forcefully as a mother bear superglued to her cubs?

(Quick side note, my great uncle was a famous magician, so here’s a small bit of mind-reading)

What’s your favourite book?

Don’t think, just answer.

Okay, got it?

I’m going to wager it’s fiction. Non-fiction has tremendous value and hey, your answer might be a memoir or business book or something scientific (I said my great uncle was the magician, not me!) but when I ask this of people, ninety-nine times out of a hundred the answer comes back fiction.

Harry Potter.

The Da Vinci Code.



To Kill a Mockingbird.

Lord of the Rings.

The list goes on.

All beautiful, wonderful, tremendously invaluable lies that someone made up.

So, what the heck, humanity?

I’ve heard it said that writers make things up in the pursuit of discovering truth, and to me that sort of sounds like eating lots of T-bone steaks in the pursuit of lowering your cholesterol; but for some reason, it works.

The reason why it works is above my pay grade, but perhaps it’s because fiction softens truths and makes them easier to brush against the skin. Perhaps fiction distils truths to something palatable so your body doesn’t immediately vomit them all up. Perhaps it’s because some truths are hiding behind the stars and moons and galaxies, and although the arm of nonfiction is long, the reach of fiction is inescapable.

coldmaker, daniel-a-cohen, book

Either way, both sides of fiction - reading it and writing it - have an incredibly large draw to so many people. I can only speak for myself, but I thought it might be interesting to discuss why.

Here are some of the things that have steered me towards a life of writing. Here are the things that write me.


Writing does not come easily to me. Pretty much every time I open my manuscript I think: “I’m going to screw this up.” But resistance breeds meaning, and every time I safely return from the soil of fiction I bring back a tiny seed of purpose.

Word Processing (PUN!)

I can think of no better way to deal with the heaviest emotional chains than to pound them flat and stitch them into the page. Sometimes seeing them there is an act of opening up; sometimes seeing them is closure.


“You really think you’re in control?” – Gnarls Barkley

There’s far more to your mind that you think, and writing is the best way to send Alice into the vast wonderland of the unconscious. The page surprises me every day.


Considering I don’t want all of my characters to sound like me (something I struggle with daily) I actually have to get out of my cave and go interact with human beings. As a chronic introvert, this is invaluable.


Writing a book is more or less the spelunking of the imagination. It’s a vast and illogical place, and it’s nice to know there are others down there beside you, smiling against the darkness.

Historical Record

Looking at pictures is like stepping into well-worn shoes. Looking at old writing is like squeezing into the entire ensemble.
Rounding of Edges

Like seeing the Basilisk through a camera, some traumas are less deadly when viewed through the lens of your own writing.


Unlike other creative mediums, writing costs practically nothing (other than time and effort). Even if you’re sans computer, pen and paper usually aren’t far away, and neither is a succulent story waiting to be plucked.


As the manuscript grows, so do you. What’s also interesting to note is that when the manuscript shrinks back down (the dreaded editing process) you still grow, possibly even more. And if your process feels awful, it’s still fertilizing your soul.

'An Ode to Fantasy'

I want to go uncharted 
I want to dig up the X 
I want to sing with the faeries 
I want to tame the T-rex 
I want to wield the sword of the century 
I want to drink magic ale by the flagons 
So I learned to swim the fantastic 
Because only here there be dragons.
author, daniel-a-cohen

Having spent most of his life trapped in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, Daniel A. Cohen decided to dream himself somewhere new. It was from this quest for heat that the scorching world of Coldmaker was born. In addition to his writing career, Daniel is a semi-professional saxophonist in Austin, Texas, spending his days in front of the page and his nights in front of crowds. Sometimes the crowds cheer, and Daniel often wishes the page would do the same. Coldmaker is available to buy now. For more information about Daniel and his work, you can follow him on Twitter.

Will you be reading Coldmaker? Let me know in the comments below!

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