Does writing fiction expand the way you experience the world?

When I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors how writing fiction has altered or expanded their own views of the world, I expected to get some good answers. What I got went well beyond that. From serving justice to understanding our humanness, my fellow Miss Demeanors answered in ways that are both deeply thoughtful and utterly thought provoking.

Alexia: Hmmm, had to think hard about this one. I’m not sure writing fiction has changed the way I see the world. I write fiction because of the way I see the world. I see a world full of injustice, where the bad guy often wins and evil often triumphs over good. In the world, you can do the right thing and watch helplessly as cheaters get away with it. The world doesn’t care if you’re a good person, bad stuff happens to you regardless. Life’s not fair and you have no right to expect it to be.When I write fiction, I change the world by making it operate the way I want it to. Good wins, justice prevails, hurts are healed. Writing fiction keeps me from despair. 

Tracee: I agree with Alexia that writing is a means of controlling the – or at least – my world. In my writing, I’ve found that my viewpoint has expanded in small ways. The broad swaths of story are my vision, however the details, when I drill down into the minds of the characters, is where my world had expanded. What would a  person unlike myself do or say or think or jot down. Those are the details of life that make me really put myself in the other person/characters shoes, leaving my life and possible preconceptions behind. 

Robin: Alexia’s answer is a great one that I can relate to. I’ve seen a lot of bad people get away with bad things and writing crime fiction is an opportunity to create the justice I wish I could see in real life. That said, what I’ve learned is that what scares me about technology is different from what scares others. Putting myself in the shoes of readers is a lot of fun in that regard.

Susan: This is such an interesting question, Alison, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. One thing I’ve noticed is that writing has changed my own personal behavior. We are taught (by our agent) that protagonists should be proactive, and so I’ve come to realize that I actually admire proactive people in real life. I’ve tried to become more proactive myself, with the result that I am now chairing three committees. Now trying to be less proactive, but anyway, writing has definitely made me think about my place in the world or what I would like it to be.

Michele: I’ve been pondering this question and monitoring my thoughts the last several days. I have decided that writing fiction has made me see that the people I encounter everyday all are stars in their own stories and that each story is unique and equally as compelling. If I were at a party (God forbid for an introverted writer), I could write a story about each of the guests and make that person come alive to a reader. When you look at it this way, there’s an abundance of material and inspiration out there. I think finding empathy is the first step. 

Paula: The short answer is that writing, like reading, is my way of making sense of the world and of myself. Good fiction reveals the truth about the human condition, and the best fiction makes me feel better about being human. Those are the stories I most want to read, and those are the stories I aspire to write.

So, fellow writers, what do you think?

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