Monday, 23 March 2015

Words with (Jam) History by Anne Stormont

It's not only authors writing  on historical themes who mine the past, all writers do it

I know a bit about history. Both ancient and modern history made up a fair proportion of my university degree, and my days at university could now actually be classed as ancient history themselves. Looking back at my days at St Andrews, reading the earnest essays and tutorial notes, the latter complete with doodles in the margin, or looking at the photos full of seventies hairdos­­­–– feather-cut anyone–– and bell-bottom jeans is akin to going on an archaeological dig. The past is brought instantly to life when I look at those artefacts. What future, actual archaeologists would make of them, I'm not sure. They'd probably decide there was no such thing as a hairdresser in the period 1974-77 and that there was a world surplus of denim which was adopted as the material for the making of uniforms for all students.

When thinking about what to write for this history themed issue, I was struck by how closely related, history and its sister discipline of archaeology are to the art of writing. All writers in whatever genre and no matter how 'out there' the nature of their work, must mine their own experiences in order to come up with their content. Our lives and those of the people who went before us, the life of our planet and its incredible journey through time and space provide layer upon layer of material to explore. And we then reflect and surmise, speculate and extrapolate and finally imagine and create. And it doesn't matter whether we're writing fiction or non-fiction, literary or genre, poetry or drama, we all have to go back to a source. It also doesn't matter if our fiction writing is contemporary, set in times past, or times still to come. Our sources pre-date us no matter what.

All writers extract the story from the history. 

Anne Stormont is an author-publisher. She can be a subversive old bat but maintains a kind heart. As well as writing for this fine organ, she writes fiction for adults – mainly of the female-of-a-certain-age persuasion – and for children. She blogs at  – where you can find out lots more about her.   

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