When people are discontent, they become anxious. The remedies for this condition are numerous, and yet no combination of pharmaceuticals, therapy or meditation will alter reality beyond a momentary reprieve.
When writers are discontent, they possess a completely different set of skills to alter the world around them. Writers can take reality and turn it into, well, anything they want.
It’s called fiction.
Writers look through a lens and see a world as it might be. A writer doesn’t have to settle for the way things are. Or for that matter, the way things are going to be ten years from now or ten thousand years from now.
“I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.” – The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 5, February 1954
Writers can even change the past.
“That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.” – Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
That’s right. A writer can go back and make revisions to the past, turn it into a more self-satisfying version that rights a wrong or requites a love.
It’s the feeling after watching a movie when you say to yourself, “What a lousy ending. I would never have ended the story like that.”
Writers can end any story any way they like. Dissatisfaction with history is often approached by writers not to be rewritten but to be reassessed by fictional accounts.
Humanity crafted in the form of fictional characters living through The Roman Empire, Viet Nam, Selma – allows readers to change places for a few hundred pages with “real” people and perhaps see the world outside of history books.
Reality in the hands of the writer is a tunnel to depths no one can reach unless the writer lowers the rope. The desire to seek out those depths is what fuels many writers.
Tennessee Williams saw imperfections everywhere in the world around him. He said:
“Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory.”
Do writers have to be unhappy, depressed, miserable and dissatisfied with reality in order to find the motivation to write fiction?
No, but often writers are inspired by the sadness and misery they see around them or from personal experience.
“I believe there is hope for us all, even amid the suffering – and maybe even inside the suffering. And that’s why I write fiction, probably. It’s my attempt to keep that fragile strand of radical hope, to build a fire in the darkness.” – John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
Can writers really change the way the world looks?
Writers are often compared to magicians. To be a magician one has to believe in magic. Not the actual ability to make something disappear, but the ability to convince someone you can.
Fiction does not have to change the reality of a reader, it only has to suspend it for a time. The world with all its damage and suffering can do with a re-write.
“That is why I write – to try to turn sadness into longing, solitude into remembrance.” – Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
Perhaps discontentment is a universal prompt for writers. What can be more irksome than a story that doesn’t tell the whole truth. Do we believe that the truth can only tell one story?
“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried)
Truth, reality, the status quo – a writer can masterfully rearrange, distort, disavow, revise, reinvent, reimagine and like the magician, present a world with all the confidence necessary for a reader to drop any disbelief and hop right in.
Writers write with the power to alter reality and readers read with the desire to have their reality altered.
How powerful is the written word?
“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from human lips; not be represented on canvas or in marble only but be carved out of the breath of life itself.” —Henry David Thoreau
Whatever motivates you to put pen to paper think of the depth of what you can produce. Life will go on and nothing can alter our destinies but there is an unlimited number of stories to tell how it all might turn out if only…
Christina N Ranallo for PenPaperWrite
Remember we have a 60 Scenes® Writing Method Workshop coming up on March 23rd. Learn how to storyboard, the Three-Part Dramatic Structure, the Outer Journey of Plot and the Inner Journey of character development, the power of the Scene and a lot more all in one day. Register here à www.60scenes.com
The class size is limited to 15 writers and the class fills up quickly so register soon. We focus on each writer during the workshop and there is a 40+page workbook including all the materials necessary to start using the 60 Scenes® Writing Method right away.
Hope to see you on March 23rd for the next workshop. www.60scenes.com