Friday, November 15, 2013

Why I write's equipment for living

Melanie , a reader, asked in a post on my Facebook author page what it is that inspires me to write. I could have been glib and said, as many authors do, that I don't actually like writing--I like having written. Because the process is as often frustrating and hateful and time-consuming as it can be enjoyable. I could also have said that it's much more fun to make up things in fiction than to tell the truth, as was the goal in my old job of journalism. But then there's often more truth in fiction than 'news'-- fiction has to make sense.

I think, at the root of it, it's more about loving and being inspired by STORY than writing. Story, as screenplay guru Robert McKee says: " ...rivals all activities--work, play, eating, exercise--for our waking hours, and even then, we dream. Why? … because Stories are equipment for living. " They are metaphor for life.

A Story is about emotion and values, which are at the soul of art. A writer, says McKee, shapes Story around a perception of what's worth living for, what's worth dying for, what's foolish to pursue, the meaning of justice, truth…all the essential values that make us human. Or not.

And in reading them, in listening to Stories told in a pub, on the bus, when someone returns from a trip afar, or from the grocery store down the road, we hold mirrors up to ourselves and examine our place in society, our belief systems. We get to feel emotion vicariously, without the danger. We experiment and question our own values. And we root for a hero who gets to win! That gives us both pleasure and power in our own lives.

And yep … a long winded answer 

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