I am sure that many people could tell you why news writers, philosophical writers, historical writers, and plenty of other such occupations are important. And they are important, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about now. I’m going to try and explain why fiction authors are important, as a person who is both an avid reader and an aspiring author.
First, fiction is often used as escapism. Most people don’t read a philosophical journal to relax (some people do, but most don’t) they read a story. Fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, romance, historical, and more, each with dozens of sub-genres. And escapism isn’t a bad thing, sometimes it’s the only thing keeping people alive and remotely sane; reading fiction allows you to escape to a different place and time and become a different person, if only for a little while. In a world rife with death, depression, anger, and so many other negative things, it’s good to be able to take a break and remember that the world is made of more than just bad stuff.
Another thing about fiction is the characters themselves. Many bookworms (myself included) have found friends in the stories they read, and it is a great comfort. When someone feels alone, different, or hurt, it is a very helpful thing to find a character that shares those feelings. It’s good to see how they deal with their struggles, and to be reminded that no matter how you feel, you can find peace and joy, because, hey look, that character like you did. You are not alone. Even if your friends are technically fictional, they feel real, because they have real problems, just like you.
Similar to escapism, but not the same thing, is that books allow you to travel to another place, be that somewhere in this world, or an entirely different one. You can have an entire adventure filled with dragons, mysteries, romances, explosions and epic battles without ever leaving your bedroom. “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” A quote by Mason Cooley on one of my favorite bookmarks proclaims, and it is incredibly true. It is the most freeing feeling to be able to open up a book and travel far away to another time in place when one is stuck in one place.
Entwined in all these things is this; emotion. Books, reading, activate our minds and make us think, but more importantly they can make us feel. I have cried over fictional characters and events and I have turned to books for comfort when my world feels like it’s collapsing in on itself. And the amazing thing is, I can make that happen for someone else. As a writer, I am capable of making a story that will cause someone to laugh or cry, and that is amazing. Through my characters, plot and setting, I can make someone I have never met feel something. That is magic. Stories connect people all over the world and create communities devoted to them. They unite people of different races, countries, social and economic classes, religions, all because they felt the same emotions while reading the same thing, or used the book to escape reality, or because they appreciated that character, or that plot twist. This is the power I have, the magic that flows from my fingertips.
This is why writing is important.