It seems like with each passing day reality feels more and more like nonsense. And there is nothing more that one can do but laugh at it all. I am reminded of a quote by a famous “doctor”:
I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. — Dr. Seuss
As writers, fiction is an integral part of our lives. It is what allows us to escape our mundane or hellish realities by submerging us into worlds we have created. Worlds that are more romantic, satiric, mysterious, adventurous, fantastic, or horrific than our real lives. Yet, from our realities, our fiction is born. Each of us is writing to tell a story that has been influenced by something we have experienced. For some it may have been a song we once heard, others it may have been something we learned about in school, and for many our stories are shaped from personal histories.
Fiction exaggerates the realities of our individual situations. In a way, fiction writing is a coping mechanism by helping the author to deal his or her real life experiences. Authors write fiction as a means to make a statement and draw awareness to a needed change. Some may say that they are writing fiction because they just want to write a story. I kind of call “bull” on that. Fiction is written for a reason. There is meaning behind it. Deep down, within every fiction author there is an honest and burning desire to disseminate a message. The message may be personal or it may be something experienced by the masses, but the fact remains that there is a reason to this need to communicate that was influenced by something in the writer’s reality. Authors don’t just write stories to have stories. Authors write stories to bring awareness, to tell of something that is of great importance to them. Fiction is the author’s voice. Whether that voice is through humor, wonder, fear, anger, or happiness, the author is highlighting something in reality that needs to be regarded.
Dr. Seuss brilliantly accomplished this through humor. One of my favorite stories is The Lorax. In a colorful, whimsical, “Seussical” voice, Dr. Seuss addresses the true issues of deforestation and general disregard of nature. He shows the reader what the world will become if they don’t care for their habitat.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
All of his stories serve some kind of purpose, some kind of moral that was influenced by things he disagreed with in reality. And he targeted his message to children… the ones to stand to inherit our world’s future.
If you look at every work of fiction in existence, there is meaning behind each publication. The plot, settings, characters, dialog–there is a predetermined purpose behind it all. Some works of fiction have stranger reasons for being fabricated than others, and that reason may not be inherently obvious (e.g.; *grimace* Dinosaur Erotica). Yet, the fact remains that there was something in reality that influenced the author to craft a fictional story based off that experience. And the author wants to bring attention to that reality through their fiction.
So as you write your fiction, keep your reason for writing a specific story in the forefront of your mind.
And continue observing your reality through the wrong end of the telescope.
I am sympathetic to this argument yet don’t some people just want to tell stories because they enjoy telling stories and are good at it? The stories may incidentally entertain, inspire or educate but the purpose of the story may simply be the telling of a story. Maybe like art, storytelling needs no justification.
Thanks, Malcolm! That is a very valid point and that I am noticing a lot of people agree with. However, I personally feel that there is always some meaning / message behind every story.
Maybe the storyteller / author is just not consciously aware of the reason that forces them to be compelled to write a story. The message gets written on a subconscious level.
An author friend of mine said in response to this post that she never writes messages into her stories, to which I replied that wasn’t true. Her stories are littered with deep messages that urge for social change. And I know that her writing is shaped by her life experiences.
I feel this same way about art as well. That there is a message behind every brush stroke. I never really understood the phrase “art for art’s sake”…
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I could not agree with you more Amanda. I originally began writing fiction about a year ago thinking that I could “make stuff up” that had absolutely nothing do with me or my experiences. The honest truth is that every single story I write has been influenced by either something I myself have experienced or witnessed – with a few twists, of course 🙂
We write stories as authors thinking that we can hide behind the characters and their dilemmas. When, in reality, we are exposing our innermost emotions and thoughts – sort of the complete opposite, but I am all for it.
I have only been writing for close to two years of my life. But, I am certain – without a shadow of a doubt – that this is what I am supposed to do with my life – tell stories, send messages, and create emotion with words.
I love my telescope, thanks for the reminder to flip it around the other direction every once in a while – it is doctor’s orders, after all 😉
I really love this:
“We write stories as authors thinking that we can hide behind the characters and their dilemmas. When, in reality, we are exposing our innermost emotions and thoughts …”
That is a fantastic statement.
I am so happy that you know that being a writer is what you want to do with your life. It is such a rush when that realization hits you, isn’t it? I can’t wait to see where this journey takes you.
And, yea, keep looking through the wrong end of the telescope. 🙂
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