So, given the foolhardiness of trying to do something tricksy again, I’m just going to be upfront and say it. This is going to be another one of my not-grumpy posts. And if that means you people aren’t going to read it, then I guess I’ll have to live with that, and hang on until I can be properly grumpy again.
Mind you, I could be just a little bit grumpy today. I’ll try to explain. As a writer, I like to set my ambitions high. I like to try and write the greatest story I could possibly write. Hell, no, I want to do better than that. I want to write the greatest story ever written. Only problem is, it’s already been done. By a Danish writer, back in 1837.
The writer is Hans Christian Andersen, and the story is The Emperor’s New Clothes.
I love that story. It says so much about people and behaviour and society and all that heavy stuff, in such a clean and simple and playful way. Often, when I listen to people speaking, I think of that story. Whether it’s a politician trying to pull the wool over our eyes, or some economics expert trying to confound us with jargonistic gobbledygook, or any other “specialist” who wants us to believe they are somehow privy to knowledge beyond the understanding of us simple folk, I’ll think of those two clever tailors attempting to convince the Emperor that they are making him a suit out of nothing. And I’ll smile.
Even though I can now never write the greatest story ever, I can still take inspiration from this story. I want to be like the little boy who calls out, “He’s not wearing any clothes.” I try to write stories that are just as fun and simple and playful, but which hopefully will make people see things as they are.
I’m not sure I always manage to do it. After all, we’re all going to have a different idea of how things are. But I can sure as hell have fun trying, and that’s the best bit of all.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as