It has been difficult to know what to write here this last week or so, as an author, and regardless of political preferences. But one thing has been made abundantly clear to me.
We need more fiction.
Especially thoughtful, deep, well-researched and so-worth-pondering fiction. We need it more than ever for three reasons.
Escape. Sometimes the world seems topsy-turvy. Either we’re getting what we want, and no one else seems happy, or what we’ve lost makes us rethink everything we thought was true. Fiction can give us a break–a means to flee to another time in history, or to a utopian or more dystopian future. Inside of that “other” place we’re able to find something else.
Empathy. No matter when or where fiction is set, all great fiction is focused on the characters. Some we will love. Some, not so much. And yet all of them, if well-drawn, illustrate how humanity is complex. People are flawed. And yet, by seeing intimately into someone else’s life, even the worst antagonist might elicit compassion from us. Sometimes pity. Either way, the result is something greater.
Enlightenment. It sounds incongruent, but the goal of great fiction writers is to write the truth. The truth, however dark, beautiful, crushing, sad, joyful, odd, funny, or head-spinning. Do we weave in opinions? Of course, but how can we obtain enlightenment without them? It is only in the absence of listening to and attempting to understand a dissenting opinion that we recede into darkness.
So please, regardless of where you are these days, take a deep breath. Go to your favorite bookstore or library. Read fiction. Write fiction. And by all means, share fiction. Through a thoughtful exchange of words, perhaps we can all heal together.
Not sure where to begin? Pick a book, any book, from this list of Time Magazine’s Best 100 All-Time Novels on Goodreads.