Why I Tell Stories
Writing prompt: Tell us why you like to write stories.
I like to write because it is an opportunity to bear the soul with others. If I come up to a person and begin listing to them my life problems and my beliefs, they are most probably going to seek to get away from me. They do not want my problems adding to theirs. They do not want my beliefs conflicting with theirs. They do not want my history to distract them from their own. After all, in our lives, we are all our own main character and our own problems are most near to us. Even for those who recognize God, this is true. He is the most important character, and yet, if your eyes are the camera from which you watch the story of life, you must recognize that there is always one person consciously in the frame, at the wheel, and with whom you are dealing with. That person is yourself.
So, how do I change you? There are a couple of means. For example, I could be a force which acts on you. In this case, it is a simple battle of the wills. Whatever, my tactic is, whether it be aggression, reason, or loving kindness, my goal is to interact with you in a way that you cannot come to terms with and stay the same. If my kindness to you out wills your hatred for me, then you are forced to turn. Whether to the right or the left I do not decide. That is up to you.
This brings me to a second way I can change you. I can tell you a story. Here, we meet in a world between us. The protagonist is our agreed upon third party. I do not come to you with my problems. I come to you disguised as a character, which you intend to live through. I come to you as who you and I, for the moment, both want to pretend to be. I furnish a world in which we both agree is interesting and exciting enough to spend some time in. I get you emotionally involved. Then, I walk you through the problems that weigh on my soul. I get you to see the angles of reality visible from where I stand. I make you see me, not because you ever cared to look, but because you feel you are me. If I have done my job, an unmarried man could read my writing and feel the fear I have felt over losing my wife. No conversation needs to be had. You understand me. We have grown together in this world.
Some writers are overly cruel. They do not care what view they win you to, as long as it feels compelling. Others are vindictive. Some are in it for their own self promotion. On the other hand, I’ve sat with many writers as they debated the morality of killing off characters. The debate misses the point of story-telling entirely.
The duty of a story-teller is to grow yourself, and to help others grow, all by living through your characters. The reader has the right to be edified by you, as they have done you the service of picking up your writing. Where are you walking them and why? Can you give an answer for these things? Here, I believe, is where the responsibility of the writer truly lies. We win people to what is good and beautiful, by showing them where we have found it and lost it in our own lives.
Removed: People certainly have the ability to create force and it is necessary that all of us utilize it to a certain degree in our lives, lest we be run over by everyone and everything we meet. That said, people are not a force. People are not gravity. They are not friction. We are people which is something more. Which means we need something more than just force if we are to be doing our duty to others. We also need to be communal with others.
Allow me to clarify my meaning of being communal. Humans are not built to become what they are meant to be simply by being pushed and shoved into the properly shaped container. If we were purely material, perhaps this method would work. However, being human means that there is an immaterial part of us with a heart and a will, with hope and dreams. This piece of us we will defend at all costs, from anything we think is in its way. It is dear to us. No amount of pushing someone’s soul to the ground will gain them to your side. A person is only truly for you, if you can demonstrate that you are for them. The only way they will be convinced of that, is if they feel it in their souls.