Fight or flight? Concepts in Conflict


I hate conflict. That’s one of the reasons I’m a writer.

In real life, conflict is met by the fight or flight response. Depending on the situation,  I’m all about flight. I know, I know, I sound like a total wimp, but that’s the case. Yeah, I’ll fight for certain things, but like most people, I think, I prefer to avoid major conflict and confrontation.

Call me a mamby-pamby, call me a peacemaker, but don’t call me a conflict avoider when it come to the professional job of filling the blank page with meaningful and eloquent words. Stories, in all their myriad forms, demand conflict!

Where there are people, there is conflict.

It’s quite a concept, but once unpacked,  a concept that is perfectly true. I’m conflicted in these very statements. How can a conflict avoider like myself insist upon increasing conflict on the page?

Art may imitates life, but it isn’t life, is it?  It’s a reflection of life; a muddied, manufactured, crafted, drafted, redrafted, refined and repurposed reflection that mirrors our own humanity back to us. That, fellow writers, may be the secret.

We are allowed — indeed, encouraged — to invent on the page. We may be people- pleaser in our daily lives, but in our writing lives we can have characters who, frankly, don’t give a damn. We can occupy the skin of another, transform a version of our shrinking selves into a triumphant conflict fighter, all through the act of invention.

Come out  this Thursday, January 30th to Conflict and Catastrophe: Getting your Characters in and out of Crisis, at  Stratcona County Library and we’ll carry on the conversation. Bring a sharpened pencil or a laptop and we’ll experiment with raising the  the stakes, ramping up the conflict. Let’s  Mark it on your calendar now so there’s no conflict, except on the page!


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