I didn’t post last week because, well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that world matters have (once again) been hard to comprehend. And the post I was going to share didn’t quite feel right. So I’ve dug this post out instead. Sadly, I’ve had cause to share this more than once over the past few years as the world seemingly tries to outdo itself with more and more crap events. And here we are again wondering what’s going on – and what our writing means in the face of painful reality.
As writers, we often pitch our work as a way to escape from the everyday, a place for our readers (and ourselves) to soothe external troubles. But in times like these, it seems frivolous to even consider working on our stories.
But no matter what’s going on in the real world, stories will always be important.
Ursula Le Guin, in her usual brilliant fashion, explained there’s a difference between “lies dressed as truth” and actual fiction. The unpracticed and willfully destructive use words to spread fear and hate. Our tales of fiction, no matter how “literary” they may be, can be a powerful part of the fight against this.
Your words are important.
Your words make people think, make them question, make them feel. Research shows those who read fiction are more empathetic to the world around them, to the people who are different from themselves. Stories show us there’s a world of thoughts and feelings out there. And though we are unique, we’re part of a giant wealth of uniqueness that this world needs. By doing this, stories can wrestle back the power from sloppy word-wielders, those whose aim is to stir up the most base of our emotions, to stifle our thoughts and poison us against our fellow humans.
And your words are important to you. Don’t minimise that part. They keep you going and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Your writing can have even more meaning in extraordinary times. So keep writing – we need it.
What do you think? Please share in the comments.