“Go exploring because time marches on and you wouldn’t want not to have done it.”
Margaret ended a talk attended by a room full of fans with this thought-provoking comment. She knows whereof she speaks: she’s the author of more than 50 books that have been published in more than 40 languages. Most recently she’s indulged her long-standing passion for science fiction and written several novels in this popular genre. Her newest book, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, explores different aspects of this explosively exciting literary landscape. Although sci fi this isn’t my cup of tea, it was fun to take a journey down memory lane with Margaret and peek into the childhood roots of her ardent love of the strange and fanciful.
Here’s something very encouraging for us all: as she matured as a writer, Margaret allowed herself to do riskier things in her work than she had when she was younger. This idea that risk-taking is not just for the young but also the young at heart is just so empowering! It is also a reminder that we all need to give ourselves permission to step off our well-trodden paths and take some side trips into new worlds that may beunfamiliar and strange to us, but which can also be tremendously invigorating.
Think about it for a moment. What type of literature is a closed book to you right now? Perhaps you rarely read poetry or you haven’t been to a play in a long time — or you tend to bypass historical fiction. Why not look into these areas and see what you can find? Or better still, why not sit down and try your hand at writing a poem or create some dramatic dialogue as if you writing a play? You might find that these fanciful forays would really loosen up your narrative voice and give you some valuable new tools to work with.
Many visual artists explore more than one artistic avenue in their work: they may paint, draw, and sculpt. Perhaps we should do the same, if for no other reason than to energize our current work. Who knows what discoveries we might make?
Margaret Atwood is in her early 70s and yet she’s still excited about her writing and still experimenting with it in ways that appeal to her legions of loyal readers. She’s also an avid fan of Twitter and has a huge following. I love the idea that she’s mastered this instant messaging tool with verve and gusto. Her energetic embrace of to new ideas and fascination with new technology are so refreshing. Let’s be as adventurous as she is!