Debra thinks about what amazing power writers hold.
This weekend I hosted a children's book discussion at our Historical Society based on the book Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. As the kids and I were chatting about the book, we turned to the author notes at the back of the edition I had. A quote from Ms. MacLachlan stood out as she responded to the question of 'What is the best thing about being a writer?'
"For me the most rewarding thing about writing is making things come out the way I want them to; making sense of the things that were in my life when I was a child as well as the things that I care about now that I am an adult. As a writer I have the power to set things down and make them right, that same power that I don't always have in life."
Her response really struck a chord with me. The power writers have at their fingertips is really amazing. We have infinitely more control over the lives of our fictional characters than we do over our own. Even over simple things like the weather: if my story calls for a sunny day at the beach...wa la...the sun pours down, heating the grains of sand and sparking over the water. If the angst and turmoil and tension of a scene needs to be back lit by a thunderstorm...boom!...thunder shakes the earth and lightning forks through the sky lighting it with a brilliant flash.
We control our characters' emotions and reactions. We give them backgrounds and backstory. And especially in romance, we give them a happily ever after. Guaranteeing that after all of the angst and turmoil and bad things that have happened in the past, they are going to be happy. Everything is going to work out in the best way possible. Not to sound blasphemous, but it's a little like playing God.
You have only to turn on the news. Or look on Facebook. Or open an on-line search engine and read the heart-breaking headlines there each and every day to know this doesn't happen in real life.
But not only do we have the power to control our characters and stories, we also have the power to make our readers feel good after a crap day...or a crap week...or a crap year. To let them immerse themselves in a story with a good ending. To know for certain, that no matter what the characters are going through and how long it takes them to get there or what bad needs to be overcome, it will all be overcome. To lose themselves in fiction for a while to take the edge off of reality.
It's a daunting responsibility to think that as much joy as we get out of our writing (most days, right?!) how much more joy we can bring to those who read our stories. Not to mention in a world that more and more often feels like it's falling apart, being able to control anything is truly a miracle.
Until next time,