There’s so much ugliness in the world right now. It feels like every news story is more horrifying than the last, and that’s been weighing heavy on me. Have you noticed the lack of posting? In truth, I wrote four blog posts and tossed them. It seemed trivial to be talking about word counts and editing frustrations.
Is there a point to this? Do stories even matter when there’s so much trouble in the world?
Yes. Emphatically YES. – I’m answering this even as I type the question…
Stories can be subversion. They can expand your mind, shatter boundaries, and show hypocrisy and ugliness by offering different perspectives of the truth. E grew up in a what was a communist country at the time. There was no room for the “big minds” as he calls them: the creative thinkers, scholars, writers, innovators. He told me that his teachers would ask the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. If a child answered wrong (writer, artist, businessman) someone from the party would come pay the family a visit that night.
Stories can also take you away from the world for a time. Sometimes a mental escape is necessary, and sometimes it’s the only escape that’s possible. Stories can make you forget your troubles. They can make you smile and laugh, and chip away a little of the sadness, boredom, or loneliness. Every once in a while, I’ll crack open my trusty copy of Pride and Prejudice and let it sweep me away. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read it, and it’s always handy for when I need it.
Stoies can teach about life, and love, and growing up. They can help us navigate through the world. My parents never gave me the talk about the ‘birds and the bees’. Instead my dad, I imagine embarrassed beyond belief, asked someone at a bookstore to recommend a book to teach about sex, and I was gifted the “Clan of the Cavebear” one Christmas. Oh my, eye opening.
Stories inspire. Fiction can expand the imagination, and spark innovation in other areas: artwork, technology, lifestyle. I once had this idea that I’d cook my way through fiction. I decided to take all the food mentioned in the stories, make it real, and blog about it. I had to cut back on reading fantasy after reading “The Name of the Wind”. Great book, but damned if I was going to eat more stew. You know there’s something wrong when you start choosing fiction based on food preference. The idea flopped, but I still think some kind of paper could be written about the dietary constructs of fantastic worlds… anyone game?
Stories can offer hope, show us that we are not powerless. That bravery is small and large, that change is possible. For example, the boy who was not the smartest, or the most talented, still managed to succeed despite all the odds stacked against him. I’m no one. I haven’t got millions, nor a name anyone knows, I have no books on the shelves (yet), but I do not believe I’m powerless.
If you write what you love, and believe in what you write, you will affect the world – because love has a way of doing that. At the very least, through writing, you’ll change yourself, and that’s something real too.
Do you ever question the point of your writing? Have stories made a difference in your life?