"Investing life in creating fantasy
that results in pointing real people
in the real world
to true hope in the true evangelium
is not a waste
but well done."
When I'm first introduced to people and they find out I'm an author -- and a fiction one at that -- I invariably get one of two responses . . .
Either an opportunistic quirk of the brow which is quickly followed by, "What a coincidence. I'm a writer too. Can you help me get published?"
Or more commonly I get "The Look." You know the one. The curled upper lip. A slight rearing back of the head. Sometimes a stifled gasp as if breathing the same air as me might infect the listener with some dread disease. This is most often followed by an, "Oh," and then the topic is switched at lightning speed to something more important. Like the volatility of cattle futures. Why is that?
Because there are judgmental people out there who think writing fiction is a complete waste of a life.
I would argue that it is not, for many, many reasons. Here are four:
1. Writing fiction connects the author to the Creator in a way that is sacred.
Granted, this could be construed as kind of nebulous, but for writers who work out their theology via the medium of story, it's a very tangible reason. Sometimes it takes make-believe to understand a world that often makes no sense whatsoever. There is something deeply spiritual about language, for it is the way we connect with the Creator of that language. In this sense, for some, writing fiction is an act of worship.
2. Fiction communicates truth in a non-threatening format.
No one likes to be preached at. It's uncomfortable at best. But who doesn't turn their head to listen to a tale that captures their imagination? Fiction is a great way to get into someone's brain with their permission and possibly expand or change their mind on wrong thinking.
3. It makes the author a better person.
Writers must meditate. Calm down. I'm not talking monotone chanting while sitting in a lotus position. Considering how to take complex moral issues and break them down into bite-size story nuggets uses a lot of thought. It's that thought, that consideration, that changes an author himself.
4. It makes the reader a better person.
There are studies galore on how reading fiction affects the brain of a reader--in good ways. It creates a compassion, an empathy toward the characters, which in turn transfers over to real life in small but very good ways. Here is just one of them.
Jesus was the greatest storyteller of all, often teaching with fictional stories. Would you say he wasted his life?
What we need, in short, are stories.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien