Writing in Fiction: The Sandman’s Calliope

I’ve just finished watching the first season of The Sandman, the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comic series.  I binged with a month of Netflix before the cancel and go somewhere else.

The TV series is quite as wonderful as the comic and I liked the sense of telling different stories.  It does have a sense of a series of interconnected short tales.  I’ll try to avoid spoilers, because I’m not reviewing it. I’m interested in the way writers are depicted in fiction.  The advice is ‘write what you know’, which is why so many protagonists are writers.

Anyway, the last episode, Calliope, featured Arthur Darvill (Rory in Doctor Who and it was good to see him doing something different) as a writer.  There was also Derek Jacobi (the Master in Doctor Who) as another writer.  You can spot a theme.

These writers suffer from a lack of inspiration and tells the story of their desperate measures to gain inspiration.  They need ideas.  That’s all they need to be successful, one whacking great lightbulb hovering over their heads and then fame, fortune, canapes and chardonnay.

It does seem odd that there are so many stories play with this cliché.  I mean do writers still lie in the gutter and suffer in their garret, while awaiting some divine and magical muse.

But all these writers must have written and must know that you just have get on with it.  They’ve done so in the commercial world full of deadlines and constraints – particularly comic and screenplay writers.  So they must know that sitting around staring out of the window or sacrificing chickens isn’t the way.  Surely?

Although, to be fair, the muse makes a character, conversation and conflict flashes of inspiration can make magical scenes and actors tearing at their clothes in desperation makes for good performances.  In reality, someone simply sitting at a computer typing is… well, dull.  You see, all the amazing fantasy, all the dragons and heroes, space battles and car chases, romance and discovery, mystery and suspense are all internal, unseen and imaginary.  It’s all just made up.


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