The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Do: WRITE

5 Reasons Writing Is Important to the World

The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Do: WRITEI find myself a little trepidatious as I sit down to write this post. I just downed my morning coffee, and the caffeine is kicking in and latching onto my nerves, making my fingers just a little trembly.

Why am I nervous?

Because this is such a big post. And such a deeply personal post.

Let’s face it, people, the world’s a mess right now. I think the vast majority of us agree on that, to one degree or another, regardless our worldview. And what are we doing about it? What can we do about it?

We’re just average people. Normal people. People who get scared and confused. People whose own little howling demons somehow have the ability to overwhelm us even more easily than the monsters that seem to be crunching our world for breakfast right now.

We’re just folks who put words on paper. We’re just people spinning little tales that make us happy or fulfill our own fantasies: romance and superheroes, dragons and femme fatales. We’re just writers.

That doesn’t seem like much right now. It certainly doesn’t seem like enough.

Why Am I Writing? What’s the Point?

Stories have always been my language. I told myself stories all through childhood. I read voraciously. I playacted constantly, pretending I was characters in my favorite books. My imagination spun webs of wonder and possibility all around me. Life was never just what it was. It was always more. It was always a portal to something bigger, something that mattered: a story.

I thought that’s what the world was. I thought that was how everyone saw the world.

Then, of course, I grew up. I became a writer, not so much because I wanted to do anything big and important, but because that something big and important was already a part of me. All that passion and wonder of storytelling was something that just flowed out of me. I couldn’t help but share it.

You-cant-depend-on-your-eyes-when-your imagination is out of focus Mark TwainExcept it seemed most people didn’t see stories the way I did. I’d close a book or come out of a movie, and the world would be shining because of the power I’d just experienced—the portal to immortality I’d just glimpsed. But others would just shrug. “Yeah, it was fun.”

Slowly, disillusionment crept in. I have always maintained, based on my own experiences as much as anything, that stories should be more than mere entertainment and escapism. That, indeed, they must be. Yet everywhere I looked, it seemed that’s all other people were getting out of their stories.

Is that all stories are? A soporific drug to numb our minds against the difficulties, confusion, and sometimes downright horror of our lives?

Is that what I’ve spent my life in pursuit of, as both a reader and a writer? Am I and a small handful of others the only ones who see stories as more and are affected by them on a soul-deep level?

Are Stories a Force for Evil?

Depressed yet? Let’s take it one step farther. Disillusioning as it may be to think of stories as a mere neutral force in the world, what if it’s worse than that? What if they’re actually a force for evil?

Anjelica Huston’s wicked stepmother has a line in Andy Tennant’s Cinderella retelling Ever After that always makes me snicker. She self-assuredly puts down her step-daughter with the pert declaration:

People read because they cannot think for themselves.

Anjelica Huston Ever After

It’s obviously a ridiculous statement. Just the reverse is true.

Isn’t it?

Those Who Tell the Stories Rule Society PlatoNo culture in history has ever been so saturated with stories as ours. Books, movies, television. Mass media connects us all and is undeniably used as a tool for propaganda. As writers, we are influenced by popular fiction in all its forms, even as it grows ever more violent, ever more gratuitous.

Sometimes I find myself asking, “Am I sharing my truths—or someone else’s?” Could it be that my stories and I are only contributing to society’s downward spiral. Am I helping at all? Or am I maybe even hurting?

A few weeks ago, I watched the documentary Kingdom of Dreams and Madness about Studio Ghibli and beloved Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, as he was working on what was thought to be his final film, The Wind Rises, about the inventor of the World War II-era Zero fighter plane. In it, Miyazaki mused that animation is like aeronautics:

You know, people who design airplanes and machines. No matter how much they believe that what they do is good, the winds of time eventually turn them into tools of industrial civilization. It’s never unscathed. They’re cursed dreams. Today, all of humanity’s dreams are cursed somehow. Beautiful, yet cursed dreams.

The Wind Rises

He went on to say:

Personally I am very pessimistic. But when, for instance, one of my staff has a baby you can’t help but bless them for a good future. Because I can’t tell that child, “Oh, you shouldn’t have come into this life.” And yet I know the world is heading in a bad direction. So with those conflicting thoughts in mind, I think about what kind of films I should be making.

Personally, I have always considered myself neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a realist. It’s my blithe answer: “I’m a realist.” But Miyazaki’s words hit me in the heart. I am, I think, a pessimist (or perhaps have become one), and yet, in my stories, my writing, I wake up and seek optimism every single day.

That is no force for evil.

The Devil Has No Stories

Heroes of the City of ManPeter J. Leithart opens his book Heroes of the City of Man (an analysis of Greek epics), with the introduction “The Devil Has No Stories.” The more I study story theory—structure, character arcs, and particularly theme—the more I can’t help but find this an inescapable truth (although I don’t believe in a literal devil).

Stories are, fundamentally, truths. Even when the author didn’t intend it to be so, even when he is unaware of it—even when the readers or viewers are unaware–a story is always a statement. If it is to ring true, then what it says must reflect reality—it must reflect what is true.

And what is true is always good—whether it is beautiful, whether it is dark, whether it is healing, whether it is painful. Truth is always a beacon, a guiding light pointing us back to the best things in life.

In that introduciton, Leithart wrote:

Somewhere, even in the stories of the most self-consciously rebellious storyteller, God’s story shines through.

In exploring stories, in sharing stories, humans are reaching for something better. Unwittingly, we are searching for the divine. We are trying to make sense of our world by seeking what is real, by rejecting what is false, and by exercising the greatest of our mortal gifts in pursuit of the immortal.

In his epic poem Mythopoeia (written for a then-doubting C.S. Lewis), J.R.R. Tolkien declares:

The heart of Man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act.

5 Reasons Story Is a Power for Good

Caught Up in a Story Sarah ClarksonShortly after watching the Miyazaki documentary, I read Sarah Clarkson’s slim book Caught Up in a Story—an encouragement to parents to “storyform” their children’s lives. I read it primarily with an interest in finding appropriate reading choices for my young niece and nephew. But by the time I was finished, I knew I had read it mostly for me.

Clarkson argues eloquently for the unshakable importance of stories within our lives, especially during childhood:

Man still has the power to make sense of the world by telling a story about it.

Her affirmation filled a hole within me I hadn’t even realized had grown so deep.

Yes, writing is important.

Yes, stories matter.

Yes, stories change the world for good.

Yes, yes, yes.

writing 21st century fiction donald maassAs Donald Maass says in Writing 21st-Century Fiction:

[Great fiction] creates characters we become, brings us into their experience and makes that experience real. It then reveals to us through their inner journeys and themes of the story what it all means. Great fiction opens readers’ hearts and, once they are captive and pliant, then opens their minds.

Here are five reasons writing a story is possibly the most powerful act for good you will ever accomplish in your life.

1. Stories Give Us Good Truths

Every story is a variation of Robert Frost’s “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” Choices are made; consequences are met. That is life. Stories show us the “good” truths—the possibilities for joy and wholeness, peace and sanity—when we make the right choices. No matter how escapist or fluffy they may seem, our stories are working out the hypothetical questions of life. “If I did this, then would this happen?” Stories are the answers, an affirmation that when we seek Truth, we find Truth—and it sets us free.

2. Stories Give Us Bad Truths

“But what about the great tragedies?” someone might argue. There are a lot of dark and depressing stories out there (just as there are stories that lead us deeper into our own dark temptations). Not every story will affect every person in a positive way. But “true” stories, even the dark ones, always shine a light on reality. Tragedies show us the “bad” truths, the truths that inevitably eventuate when we choose the wrong path and must face its consequences.

3. Stories Open Our Minds and Teach Us Empathy

What are we without stories? We are individuals, isolated islands, aware only of our own inner life and our own experiences. Stories open our eyes to the larger world, allowing us to discover faraway places and possibilities. But, even more valuable, we glimpse—if only for those few hours—another person’s soul. We see into the characters’ heads, and, through them, we see into the author’s. That wide-open wonder of untapped possibilities I experienced as a child? That is the power of story: it is a window into the greater truths of the world at large, beyond the minuscule limits of ourselves.

4. Stories Offer Us Archetypal Role Models

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in the midst of a difficult experience or faced by an overwhelming decision—and you were helped in remembering a character who endured something similar. Books change our lives because they reflect our lives. We relate to our similarities in fictional characters. Then, when we watch those characters throw off the shackles of their own fears and doubts and insecurities to make right choices and hard sacrifices, the reflection bounces back to inspire us “further up and further in” as we strive to fight the good fight in our own lives.

5. Stories Teach Us to Hope

We’re all toiling, like the Hebrews in the mud pits of Egypt, up to our knees in muck. We’re all struggling to do the best we can. In the midst of that struggle, it can be so incredibly, ridiculously easy to pour our entire focus into the mud at our feet. We begin to think that’s all there is. We forget to look up; we forget to hope. Stories remind us. They show us the big picture of another person’s struggle and they remind us we are not surrendering to darkness. Rather, we are walking through darkness to the light.

In M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Village, William Hurt’s character insists, “The world moves for love.”

But when I hear his voice in my head, those aren’t the words I hear. What I hear is:

The world moves for stories.

The world is a story. In writing stories, we are capturing a tiny part of that. We are celebrating it. We are experiencing it, and we are sharing it. We are taking each other’s hands, and we are raising each other’s chins, and we are walking toward hope.

Write your stories. They do matter. They are enough.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Do you think writing is important? Why? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Lovely and persuasive piece, K.M. (Though I was already persuaded.) I’m now editing the draft of a collaborative novel the pushes the protagonist to the edge of a cliff, but he crawls back, and I worried a bit that it might seem a little corny, despite its developed arc. But reading your post again affirms the core value of storytelling. Thanks!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Cliffs are big symbolic motif in a lot of my writing too, as a matter of fact. 🙂

  2. Katie–you’re quoting Narnia, you’ve got a clip from one of my favorite movies, and you’re forcing me to think deeper and deeper (as always). Never stop doing what you do.

  3. Thank you for sharing from your soul the thoughts and passion that describe so many of us writers. Indeed, writing grabs hold of us and just doesn’t let go.

    I’m mesmerized by the nature of how an idea transforms into a powerful book or article that shouts to the world, “Hey! Look at this! Read it, learn from it, cry over it, laugh with it, love it!”

    I share your passion, my friend.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I totally agree! Inspiration fascinates me. How we go from a little spark to a full-on firestorm is incredible.

  4. Thanks for the mention of Moral Premise; Although I already own way too many books on how and why to write, Moral Premise seems to be particularly appropriate for the project I’ve committed to finish. I’m debating between ebook and used paperback.

  5. Steve Mathisen says

    I can totally relate to your experience coming out of movies or finishing books. I wanted to continue to live in whatever universe I had just visited. I never wanted it to end. I remember when I was little (when television was still relatively young) many of my heroes lived in that land inside our television. I wanted to emulate them. My heroes included Superman, Zorro, and The Lone Ranger. Being a bit of a loner, I would pretend to be them in my play time. I lived in a neighborhood that had a 5 and 10 cent store. I could purchase, with my allowance, masks that resembled The Lone Ranger’s mask and I used one of the gates of our backyard fence for my horse (it was wide enough to sit on the had slats that I could use for stirrups).
    I would also haunt the local library when I was old enough and carried home stacks of books to read.
    Stories have always been a powerful medium for me. I am glad to know I was not the only one they had this effect on.

  6. Andrewiswriting says

    Hi!

    Wow, what a heavy post. Ok, a few points.

    Firstly, let’s address that pervasive feeling things are getting worse and the world is going to heck (I love the way Americans say that) in a handcart:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence?language=en
    https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen?language=en

    I think what’s really happening is that the increasing volume of media not only lets us see more of the less-badness that is happening, but serves the propaganda machine of the ‘be afraid!’ lobby – and always for their ends, not ours.

    And let me head off any talk of terrorism by pointing out I’m old enough to remember the IRA, baby. Those guys were blowing things up left, right and centre on a daily basis. Maybe it didn’t get the play in The States that the current handful of nutbags are, but believe me, they were far worse and did much more. And the Middle East in the seventies? Forgeddaboudit.

    Secondly, writing CLEARLY is important, because it allowed JK Rowling first to become a billionaire, and then – far more importantly – to become less that half a billionaire again, because of all the money she could turn to worthy charitable causes for children and people all over the world. That’s pretty awesome, I reckon.
    And you know, if my stuff is ever successful, I’ve got a list…

    So hopefully that’s the point proven, but I’m going to blather on because a) it’s in my nature; and b) I think I have more to say.

    Writing gives us the opportunity to say things that matter to us, and to dress them in allegorical fables that entertain as they argue a point. And the story form allows us a huge degree of subtlety in making that argument. Examples that the reader feels as though they are real. The ability to draw real life experience and the hopes and dreams and lives of real people into a fantasy. If we do it well enough.

    Consider the subtexts in the Harry Potter series around racism and oppression and good and evil, and how they might have helped form values and principles in the kids who read them. I know one young woman in particular who was so motivated by those values that she recently walked from Melbourne to Canberra to argue at Parliament House for refugees. That’s pretty enormous. (for the non-Australians in the audience, that’s walking 663km/412miles).

    Now, obviously she’s an outlier, but who can say what subtle changes those sorts of attitudes may have wrought in others, who will have a broader (if not so spectacular) influence on the next generation?

    Maybe I’m a Pollyanna but I do believe.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Great thoughts here! Encouraging thoughts.

      “Writing gives us the opportunity to say things that matter to us, and to dress them in allegorical fables that entertain as they argue a point. And the story form allows us a huge degree of subtlety in making that argument.”

      And that is why I love fantasy. So much wonder and subtlety all dressed up in a gorgeous magic trick.

  7. I want you to know that this post means alot to me; especially at this juncture, when I am starting to slide slowly down the rabbit hole of self-doubt. Thank you so much for articulating what’s deep in our hearts – both as writers and readers.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m very glad to hear that, Andrea. Sometimes the most encouraging thing in the midst of difficulties is simply knowing we’re not alone.

  8. Isn’t that the greatest accomplishment of antagonists (antagonistic forces) not only to be underestimated, but dismissed entirely?

    • If I perpetuate a lie because I think it’s truth, who do I ultimately help? Wood, hay and stubble each have certain temporary uses and benefits, but lack the qualities, the enduring value that are found in what has been refined.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        Can’t argue that. But at the end of the day each person can only be responsible for what they truly believe at any given moment. We should all be working toward refinement, and I think it’s valuable to share where we’re at along the way.

        • Indeed, and that’s grace.

          Yet, it was playing up to the emperors’ sense of refinement and sophistication that had him seeing fabric/clothing where there was none.

  9. I so enjoy all your posts, K.M. They are inspiring and instructive and creatively expressed. Yes! Our writing DOES matter. It reflects our inner being, our moral values, and, hopefully, our desire to inspire and encourage others for the good. Keep up the good work!

  10. There is a traditional Jewish saying, slightly updated: “One who saves one person saves a universe.” I think back on some books I’ve read and how profound the effect on me has been, so for me, that author’s work is totally justified.

    I’m reading a wonderful novel, The Mirror Thief. At one point an author muses that there is an exchange of pleasure between the writer who takes pleasure in creating and the reader who takes pleasure in reading, but the exchange is at a distance, solitary pleasures both. I found that peculiarly comforting.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think that was used in Schindler’s List, wasn’t it? It’s a powerful quote.

  11. Ingrid B. says

    “Write your stories. They do matter. They are enough.”
    Thank you for this, Katie!
    A profound post, my favorite yet because it touches my soul in so many ways. I might be wrong but I think I can say that you wrote it clearly from the heart.

    I beg forgiveness for the length of my post in advance.
    There was never a time in my life that I didn’t have a book or three in my hands. If not for reading voraciously, I would never have survived an exceptionally abusive, isolated childhood. And I’m not kidding, but that’s another story…

    No matter if I ever do or don’t become an established author, I have to believe that there will always be souls out there in need of mental sanctuary or a hero among the pages of a book. Someone with no other way to discover what hope is, compassion, endurance of spirit, faith in something. No other way of finding inspiration in the face of all adversity to keep hanging on, knowing goodness, integrity, other virtues to be true because they read about it.

    Yeah, yeah…I hear the noises about not believing everything you read. But tell that to someone with nothing else to draw strength from yet enough smarts to have a half decent grasp on what’s realistic, what’s not, and a Public Library card in their hand. The ones that derive their own courage from J.R.R. Tolkien or dream of some place beyond the slums because they read Ray Bradbury.

    That persistence of wonder some of us experience when leaving the movies, read that last page and close the book…this is what matters though. Even if the rest of this world denies the significance of writing, books, movies, spinning yarns… as you said in this excellent post, keep fighting the good fight. Somebody has to. I’d like to think I am.

    I sometimes think of how many people take up their pens because of a writer such as yourself, Katie…a generous heart that inspires, encourages, empowers wannabes like me to take up this challenge. Good on ya, never stop.
    I rarely ‘speak my mind’ to this length but felt this was important enough to do exactly that. Rant over.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Honestly, you just made me cry. What you say about your childhood is such a powerful example of exactly what I’m trying to say. Sometimes certain novels are like letters of encouragement that were written just for us in our own special circumstances.

      • Ingrid B. says

        Oh my… Thank you? I never meant for anyone to cry! I appreciate your candor more than you could ever know. I was one hair away from not posting it…I don’t often bare my soul and am never comfortable laying it out for the world to see.

        I’m trying to get used to that ENTER button, seems so concrete…like the hot button to Armageddon and zombies. No turning back.

        I suppose if I intend to write something worthwhile, I have to get used to sitting down at my keyboard and bleeding, good or rotten… to paraphrase some guy out there that did a little writing now and then. 😉
        I can only hope to have a smattering of the talent he and others had (and have) in the very tips of their incredible pinkies.

        Decades later, there still are very few things better to me than to hold a new book in my hands…it’s magic, with all it’s possibilities.
        I can’t quite think of anything better at the moment, though!

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Hah. I have that same feeling about the Enter button sometimes. Your finger hovers over it: push, don’t push, push, don’t push. And then your hand gets a twitch and it’s too late. :p

  12. Nicely put. Some time spent following politics has taught me that not all stories are true, or good. But the good ones are, and that is why they matter. I was shaped in important ways by Tolkien, Orson Scott Card (despite what I have learned since of his views), Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman, and by authors of other stories more factually true. There is some danger of disillusionment is spending too much time with fiction, but I cannot regret it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah, good point about “political stories.” And I certainly don’t believe every story is true; but I believe that if it works, there must be something True in it.

  13. Loved this post. What my experience with writing has always been is: in the deep throng of creation, the story stops being my idea alone. It feels like it is coming from somewhere else, somewhere divine. (cheesy, I know, but that’s how I feel)
    And because of that feeling, because of the changes in me, I have stop taking stories for short. In my religion, there is this belief that if you even change one single life for good, you have fulfilled your reason of creation. That feels possible through stories, to change a life. To give that one particular person hope, out there somewhere who might need just my words. And I am willing to write just for the possibility of it. Who knows, that person find me even after I am long dead. But when he/she does, my story will suddenly matter.
    So I don’t even think fiction is not important.
    And as for reading/watching, I totally am a believer of the third point you said.
    You don’t have to necessarily agree with everything you read, but the mere fact that reading helps us know more POVs, peoples with their struggles, their thoughts and way of thinking, that makes reading enough of a reason to do so.
    I have become way better of a person thanks to the stories. (my family will testify if someone doubts it) And writing is just improvising me in my personal journey to goodness.
    So never sell stories short with their monetary advantages. They are just a sprinkle of extra delight for the author’s hard work. 😉

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I definitely don’t think (and I know you know I’m not advocating) that we should believe in or agree with everything we read. Just the opposite. It is in challenging, changing, and reaffirming our own beliefs that we narrow down our own ability to understand Truth.

  14. One of your best posts, Katie. Inspired and inspiring.

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  16. Wonderful post. I have asked myself these questions many times as an aspiring novelist. Writing a book seemed like such a minor thing in today’s world. But it may be because of today’s world that it is one of the most important things. Thanks for keeping on the path.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Honestly, I think the little things we do–whether writing or not–*do* turn out to be the most important in the long run.

  17. It wasn’t until I saw your post that I really considered this, but I have come to the conclusion that storytelling is important. But if it is, we certainly can’t stop there.

    Stories give us truths because they are arguments. There are no bad truths, but there are certainly ineffective arguments.

    So how do you make an effective argument in a storytelling medium? I think the answer lies in story theory and general rhetoric, along with critical analysis of other such arguments.

    But then, how do you develop an audience?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes! Absotively agree with this. Even poorly done stories *can* impact someone’s life for good, but how much more effective might it be if it’s actually done well?

      As for building an audience, that’s trickier. It’s a bit disingenuous, but I do believe, to some extent, in the idea of: “Build it and they will come.” By that I mean, write the stories that are your heart, write them well, get them out there–and the readers who enjoy them will stick around.

  18. Elizabeth Richards says

    When I was in fifth grade in New York City I ran out of material to read (maybe I was home sick) and was forced to read my brother’s 7th grade reader. There I discovered the first few chapters of Rosemay Sutcliffe’s Warrior Scarlet. I made my mother go to the library so I could finish the book. I fell in love, with the Celts, with Rosemary Sutcliffe, with the whole idea of touching history.

    The next year we moved to an army depot in Germany with a Celtic graveyard preserved inside it’s fences. In the small town outside the gates, there was a house decorated with columns from a Roman villa excavated on the site. There I was in the midst of Warrior Scarlet, Eagle of the Ninth, the Lantern Bearers.

    How can I describe leaving in a place where on the surface there is one world and underneath there are hundreds of stories? Surely some language has a word for the enchantment that comes with reading. Or perhaps we should make it up.

    My dream is to write a novel that creates for some one some small part of the enchantment I’ve experienced with reading. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

    BTW: Wired for Story provides some of the scientific basis for our enchantment with story. There are plenty of scientific studies that document the impact reading has on the brain and cognitive skills. I’m fairly certain I saw a study proving that readers (and writers) are smarter and more beautiful after a book than before.

    PS: I’ve always wondered if the Biblical use of the Word, is some how tied to the human love of story.

    PSS: Thanks for raising the topic. It’s easy to forget that what we do is magical.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Definitely going to have to check out this book. Great title! And this literally took my break away: “How can I describe living in a place where on the surface there is one world and underneath there are hundreds of stories?”

  19. Thank you, Katie. Your encouragement is well-timed.

    I’ve read certain authors–Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Dickens–not just for entertainment, but because I NEEDED their words. I needed truth.

    To quote Donald Maass again, “A breakout novelist believes that what she has to say is not just worth saying, but it must be said. It is a truth that the world needs to hear, an insight without which we would find ourselves diminished.” (Writing the Breakout Novel)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I would personalize that even more and say: “We believe *we* need that Truth, whatever it is.” It’s not a truth we’re necessarily trying to proselytize others with, but it’s one that’s so deep within us–either because we possess it or because we are longing for it–that it wells up out of our deepest being.

  20. Jeffrey Barlow says

    You really wear your heart on your sleeve. That’s something I’ve always appreciated about you since the day I discovered your YouTube channel, and followed quickly by this site and then your literature.

    This is a touching post. People consider me to be a man of few words. I’m not very vocal. I’m incredibly introverted. I think a lot. Just as you say you never know what just might strike you, this post struck me. I’ve gone a long time being quiet and shy and I think I may understand now. I just never thought people cared or needed to hear what I have to say. That what I’ve ever had to say just didn’t matter. This is an eye opening passage of thought you’ve provided me with today. Maybe if I speak up, I might provide something to somebody – anybody – like you have for me today.

    To the power of words, my Lady, whether spoken or written or painted in abstract.

    – JMB

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m so glad you’ve been encouraged by the post! I think the greatest gift any of us can give another is the willingness to be honest, even vulnerable. Not everyone will listen or care. But honesty speaks to honesty.

      • Jeffrey Barlow says

        You’re absolutely right. It’s something really special and rare, and I think the reason it is so rare is because there is no formula for what will touch an individual person. That’s part of what makes us individual.

        When I first started reading this post of yours, I was really hoping for a happy ending in it, you had me worried there for a second (Actually almost a whole day because I read the first half of it then had to start work then finished when I got home, so I had a long time to think about it.)

        I’m glad that you came to the conclusion that touching people this way is what makes it all good, and worth it.

        You know what’s odd? All my life, there’s been the commonplace ways of being insulted. I never realized until now that the thing that has always upset me the most is being ignored. Like those fairweather types who will talk to you one day, but act like you are nothing more than the wind on another, who walk away as if they didn’t even hear you. Or there’s the people who don’t take what you say to heart and they never learn. And those deer -in -the -headlights types are the most frustrating people on earth.

        All this, and I still haven’t lost faith in humanity because I know there are some like us still out there.

        – JMB

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Honestly, I think more people than not feel that way about being ignored vs. being insulted. In a way, it’s kinda similar to the marketing saw “even bad publicity is better than no publicity.”

          • Jeffrey Barlow says

            You’d think that, because of how much time I spend alone (by choice. Like I said, extreme introvert), it wouldn’t bother me so much. Maybe it’s the other way around.

  21. Agreed! Writing is important. Thank goodness, since, for most of us, it is more than something we do, but an extension of who we are. And it is more important today, in this messed up world of sound bites and marketing campaigns which are taking the place of true political campaigns, not to mention all the pain in our world.
    Yes, writing is important and I feel blessed and lucky to have that voice. Thank you, for sharing yours!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, it’s very nice to discover that what you’re doing–and will keep on doing anyway–is valuable after all!

  22. JS Hamilton says

    First, agree with your points and enjoyed your post. Several things to add, the first regarding some of the often overlooked, practical application of stories.

    There are rare exceptions, but in most every case they teach or confirm for us how the world works, how it could work, how it used to work, how it might work in the future. This is incredibly useful and important. You see the character beat upon, treated unfairly, his dearest things taken from him – what do we all know will happen? That’s right – consequences of all kinds: successful revenge, rejuvenation as the character moves on, the list goes on. In this sense, stories are often true.

    “Regular old writing,” communicating complex ideas, the use of subtlety and nuance, symbolism, subtext, referencing, framing an argument, a point, or an opinion – these are near-superpowers in a world moving so fast that people rarely pause to really READ and analyze. This post, that email, even a text message, or a quick note in a chat room that is 3/4 symbols >8^] it is all powerful – for good and for evil.

    In a world where most people don’t understand how to read critically (some struggle with essential reading comprehension), and even fewer can analyze people effectively, writing is truly a worthwhile pursuit. Coupled with an understanding of how people deceive, the indicators of their real, internal selves, and other things they do without realizing it, writing becomes a terrible force that can stir up a mob, or put people at ease. So learning it not only empowers one as an actor on the stage, but armors one against the infinite actors out there, and allows one to warn the rest. My two cents.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I definitely have found it true in my own life that being a reader and a writer has given me much better people and psychological skills. How can you understand another person if you’ve never been inside his head or experienced life from his point of view? Writing and stories are how we share that with each other.

  23. Thank you so much for this post Katie! I really needed to read this. Everything in the world seems topsy turvy right now and confusing and this post helps me know I’m still on solid ground. Stories give me a reason to continue to believe that goodness is still out there and that things can get better. I’m always living in the world of books and thinking about movies that have really touched me. People say why do you take it personally and let if affect you which is frustrating to hear but that’s the only way I have always viewed stories. To be able to connect with them. Writing is so important especially now and reading more so than ever. Thanks again for such a lovely post.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I have definitely felt that way–like the ground is shaking under my feet and the world is spinning out of control around me. But stories ground me. They remind me. They center my perspective. We’re not alone!

  24. Jeffrey: I’m an introvert too. Once a week we have Shabbat guests. The rest of the time I’m alone or with my husband who’s easy to be around. It’s very hard to insult me or hurt my feelings about anything, except my ideas. I’ve come to the conclusion that we introverts live so much inside our heads and we may not feel the need for validation of our personalities, looks, or status. However, our ideas are precious to us, our companions, perhaps even our intellectual and emotional children. So attack them and we are wounded and sometimes enraged. I do think this can lead to a reluctance to let them go out into the world unprotected. I was actually a lot more willing to let my actual children face risks, even danger, than I am to make my stories vulnerable by sending the out into the world.

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