Tag Archives: why stories matter

On Writing: Why Story is Necessary (4)

by Joe McGee

IMG_5757One of the things that can be maddeningly frustrating about the dark marks splashed across the world is that we almost always have little or no control. Bad things happen. Horrible things occur and we get smacked across the face with it through news channels, media bombardment, and social media feeding frenzies. All we can do is try and digest it, swallowing it like a ball of nail-studded tar. We can certainly control our actions and reactions, but we can’t stop the madness that has already occurred; the stain on the canvas of the world.

But that’s where art comes in. As a writer (any artist really), we get to counter the black marks. We get to paint the kinds of images on the world canvas that offer a positive contrast to the grit and grime. Maybe it’s an entertaining story that just allows for a healthy escape, or maybe something that makes the reader smile and find joy. Maybe it’s a story that provides hope, or promotes healing, or helps them make sense of the world. Whatever it is, we, as writers, get to offer a healthy and creative extension of ourselves. We get to extend some semblance of control over the terrible things happening around us – something that is normally not possible.

Essentially, our words, our art, our stories, are our rally cry – ours, not just the writer, but the writer and the readers. It’s our way of counterbalancing the tornadoes of doom. It’s our way of offering a light in the darkness, strength in the face of hopelessness, a smile in the face of adversity, an escape when the world seems too heavy.

Art allows us to express ourselves, to create in the wake of tragedy, and to make sense of the world.


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On Writing: Why Story is Necessary (3)

by Jodi McKay

static1.squarespaceI can’t imagine what it would be like to be a child in the world today. How confusing and scary everything must seem. It makes me angry that their reality is so harsh, but what can I do about it?

I can create a place where hate doesn’t dare exist. A place where giggles, guffaws, and the occasional chortle always win the fight against fear, and acts of kindness outnumber violence a gazillion to one. I can build a world where change is possible, not just because someone wants it, but because they actually do something to make it happen. I can construct a space that inspires imagination and promotes free-thinking ideals. I can create a place that kids want to come back to because it’s safe and makes them simply feel happy. I can write a book.

Kids need something better than what this world is giving them right now and I believe that books, specifically and lovingly written just for children, provides them with a way out of the craziness. So, if there is ever anything I can do to improve the life of a child in the world today, it would be to write a book so that is what I will do.


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On Writing: Why Story is Necessary (1)

Why I Write in a Fucked Up World…

by J.M. Rinker

fbbe04_3ba5103c973f462e999810199d104ab9My partner and I were talking about our favorite books the other day and he has a well-rounded list while mine resembles that of a twelve year old: Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, Secret Garden, Bridge to Terabithia, and Tuck Everlasting. I actually do read grown-up books as well, but they never stay with me the same way as those titles, perhaps because childhood is much more impressionable.

But there’s something that links these books together which is the real reason they impressed themselves upon me and remain close to my heart. I read to understand. To know that I wasn’t the only one. To know it was possible to survive. As a child, I clung to those stories because by the end the kids were okay.

I write for the same exact reasons. It’s as though I don’t know anything until I’ve written it, whether it be a journal entry, a blog post, or a new novel. I can’t figure things out without writing about them. I feel alone more often than not, but when I am writing, I know exactly where I belong and which part I play. Illogical things suddenly make sense. I script scenes I will never experience so that I can experience them. So that I know, by the end, I will be okay.

So why is telling stories important in a screwed up world that we will never understand? Why should we bother?

Because when we write from that most confused, grievous, joyous, personal place, we create works of art that can significantly enrich people’s lives. These authors did exactly that for me.

EB White wrote Charlotte’s Web as he struggled with reconciling his love for animals with the way livestock meets its end. This endearing cast is unforgettable.

Louisa May Alcott was asked to write Little Women, but the characters are based on her life and the death of her own sister is mirrored in the pages. Beth becomes beloved to us all.

Frances Hodgson Burnett began The Secret Garden after she lost her son and said her characters “came to her” rather than the other way around. These are some of the richest characters ever drawn.

Katherine Patterson wrote Bridge to Terabithia after the death of her son’s friend. A poignant story that reminds us to hold close our loved ones.

Natalie Babbit wrote Tuck Everlasting because her daughter showed a fear of death that Babbit didn’t want her to carry throughout her life. Because that fear will prevent you from living.


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