March 27, 2014

Why should it matter?

Dear M,

This question may not come at the beginning of the writerly career, but as time passes, it will make its presence known. Why should my writing matter? What will it do? What can it change?

There is no concrete answer, of course. There is only an urge to say something, to speak to an invisible audience, and to see through their eyes.

Why do we read extensive articles on politics or analyses of the latest breaking news? We try to see and understand something that had not yet occurred to us. We like to be surprised by the author's viewpoint. We like to be delighted by her burst of wisdom. We like to be fascinated by her style.

We do write what we want to write, but we hope to make a connection with someone somewhere else. Did it help you? Did it relax you? Did it relieve you? Did it make you laugh? Did it make you act? Somehow we like to feel that it did.

Which is why, I feel strongly, there should be something more in our stories than the mundane. As writers, what can we bring out that a reader sees daily, perhaps, but has never noticed? Or something that the reader has never seen? Or even better, something that makes the reader pause, think, and say to herself - My God, why didn't I ever think of it that way?

When we ponder over a story we want to tell, when we are bursting with energy and enthusiasm to start typing it out, stop, and ask ourselves: Does it carry a message, a thought, a theme, or something that the reader could take away from it?

If not, ask again, is this the story I want to write?


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