"Our objective as storytellers and writers isn't to make money--there are faster and easier ways of doing that. Our objective is to change people by putting our stories in their memory; to make the world better by bringing other people face to face with reality, or giving them a vision of hope, or whatever other form our truthtelling might take. You want the widest possible audience to receive this message; when you use your best skills to open up your story to other readers, you aren't 'pandering to the masses,' you're freely giving your best gifts." --Orson Scott Card
People keep asking me: "Why would you go to Virginia for school?" See, the guy that wrote that quote teaches there.
I really do believe in writing and stories and that it can change people. It can be something as simple as just changing someone's mood. I know that if I'm in a bad mood, sometimes all I really need is a good scifi book, and it'll change my whole outlook on the day because let's face it, life never gets as bad in real life as it does in scifi novels. It can even be as grand as reading parables in the scriptures--something that can change your life. A story doesn't have to have really happened to be true. Fiction is a mirror through which we can examine real life. It's a glimpse into someone else's perception, which helps us to forget ourselves for a moment, and in doing so, find ourselves.
The quote at the beginning of this post comes from a book I'm reading by Orson Scott Card called Characters and Viewpoint. Normally, I don't really like How-to writing books, because I feel like everyone has a story and can tell a story, and I don't like being told how I should say something that's in my own heart. So it was really a combination of me not being ready to move onto another book after finishing Catching Fire, because I'm still not over it (is anyone really surprised about the lack of boyfriends in my life?), and still needing something to read. But I am actually finding this book really insightful. I'm not sure that's what you're supposed to get out of a how-to book.
One of the things Card brings up, and I've often had the same thought, that we are, in effect, telling our own story through what we write. And it's true that in the novel I've written, I see more of me in the main character than I had intended, which is scary because she's so rash and immature and melodramatic. What can I say? If I were to list some of my bad qualities, those would make it to the top ten. Also, I used to read up on Harry Potter a lot, and therefore I've also read a lot about JK Rowling and her thoughts on the books. It may surprise some people to discover that a lot of Harry Potter is actually about religion, especially the last book. She said that she had a lot of confusion about religion and had done a lot of soul searching. In the end, there are at least two direct quotes from the Bible in the final book ("for where your treasure is, there will be your heart also," "death shall be the last enemy that is conquered"), and ultimately, the whole series is about gaining that complete and unconditional love for people that leads you to be willing to lay down your very life for them. I think it's interesting that for someone who felt like she needed religion, the Harry Potter books are what resulted.
There are so many other amazing examples of fantastic books, and I think it helps people like me to process life when I read or when I write. It certainly does a lot to calm my nerves and soothe my frustrations.
There's so much that can be done through writing, and I love that because that's exactly what I want to do.