Why Write Fiction?
More to the point, why are people reading fiction in order to create this space for writers? I had assumed with the present uncertainty within the world economy that people would be more interested in researching investment strategies or ways to decrease their spending habits. However, recently I read somewhere that sales within fiction has increased substantially over the last year and it got me wondering, Why fiction? Why now?
From cavemen to scholars, people have been drawn to fire places, grave sites and photocopiers on the presence of other tasks – but in order to share stories. In times of economic crisis, humanity have turned to the arts; theatre, film and more recently – with the increase of mass literacy – fiction. For many, the escape into another world holds more appeal than facing the grim reality they endure on a daily basis.
Advertisers have long known the value of story telling, with successful executives suggesting that when they tell the story of their product, not just its features, options and physical components, that their appeal with their audience will be longer lasting and become more personal.
I would have assumed people would be more interested in finding ways to recapture a sense of economic security rather than delve into an imaginary world. However, therein lies the truth.
Can fiction contribute to our development as a human being or is its only value to society the inexpensive ability to escape? As a journey-being of fictional writing, my future depends on the theory that it can assist society in its cultural, spiritual and mental development.
If this theory is true, then we as writers of fiction hold a great responsibility. Fictions purpose is not only to transport the masses from their worries; but it is to instill hope, present opportunities and to impart lessons of the human spirit.
My need to write is very similar to those things that inspired me to read – as I am sure they are with others. I don’t belong to the group of writers who have had a clear calling all of their lives. (Its perhaps something I am a little envious of as I maintain I am still working out what I want to be when I grow up.) However, there are characters who desperately need to exist, places and spaces, realizations and thoughts that have to be expressed. They might be just thoughts, but they demand to be let out and for whatever reason; they have camped at my place and taken residence over most of my existence.
Stories explain, justify and inspire in a way that abstract reasoning just can’t. Knowing something about the value of stories in our lives can provide us some insight about who we are and perhaps a glimpse of where we are going. Its my belief that fiction is valuable to the development of our society, as it provides a safe space for experimenting with new ideas. I would even go as far as to say that reading and writing fiction in these difficult times can help us obtain the mental flexibility required to discover ways to create prosperity and happiness.
What do you think? Does Fiction have the capacity to do this? Does it inspire us to go on, to be better?