Recently I’ve been thinking about what impels me to write the type of short stories I write….. so here are a few more words on the topic:
I suppose I am always interested in how people attempt to smooth out the conflicts in the lives. I have tried to work with characters who operate at the intersection between what it means it means to live successfully, to live morally, to live courageously or boldly, and to live meaningfully; the book explores how these different ideals can, in real life, run into conflict.
A person can be a husband or a wife; they may also be a doctor or an artist or a student, a brother or a sister. Every label we attach to ourselves is underpinned by a set of moral or societal obligations. We try our best to select our personal memories and ambitions in order to represent a consistent whole – a story about ourselves. But there are always inconsistencies, expectations that run into conflict with each other. As one of my characters says, “The price of playing so many roles is that I lose track of who said what.”
This multiplicity of identities pulls us in many different directions, because it is very difficult to stay on the straight and narrow path, to no get drawn into hypocrisies which we then have to try to untangle ourselves from.
This is not a peculiarly modern condition, but I think it is more pertinent today because of the speed and frequency that new norms of identity can be created and disseminated. I’m particularly interested in advertising because it is constantly looking for new and ever more subtle ways to introduce idealisations of personality. Advertising encourages us to try on new identities all the time. The level of sophistication is very high these days, and extremely nuanced. It is an integral part of the discourse that contributes to the variety of identities we might believe about ourselves. We are then faced with the challenge of accommodating ourselves somewhere within this patchwork, usually with the result that we run into conflict and hypocrisy. I’ve heard it said that the prevailing modern condition is one of low-level yet ongoing crisis. How the anxiety of dealing with multiple identities feeds in this ongoing crisis is what interests me as a writer.