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BottomlessCup
12-15-2006, 02:08 AM
One of my writer-friends and I have an on-going conversation about fiction and the way it makes people feel about their lives.

The problem, it seems to us, is fiction's idealized nature. In fiction, things are funny, scary, exciting, and above all "important." There's a sense that even tiny lives and tiny moments matter.

In real life, on the contrary, most things don't matter - at least in a big, fancy way like in stories. We go to work. We pay the bills. We do the laundry. Yawn. We spend all - or most - of our lives in mediocrity. (Not our own mediocrity, really. Just all-over mediocrity.)

Even more troubling, I don't think it has anything to do with the substance of our lives. I'd guess that rich and famous people spend just as much time being bored out of their skulls or longing for a greater sense of meaning. Actors want to be rock stars. Billionaires want to be presidents. Even if they make a movie about you, it has to be dressed up and edited; seventy years and only two hours of highlights.

It makes me sad that our reach so exceeds our grasp. That we hear stories and legends, and long for our lives to feel like that, but they don't. That we seek a singular and vital role in the world, but in that search, we find out that everyone else wants our same uniqueness. That while our hearts dream of grandness, the world delivers banality.

I think fiction has a major role in causing that angst. The never-ending flood of stories. We consume not just tales of Great Heroes Doing Amazing Things, but stunning works about average people. When we close the book or turn off the TV, it's back to real life. Ugh.

Another friend of mine was reading a fantasy series (Sword of Truth) and told me, only half joking, that he cared more about the events of the story than his own life. He was being flippant, but I understand what he means. Enjoying a powerful work - heck, even a so-so one - can make me feel unimportant, especially when I put it down and go back to a day of doing the same thing I've been doing for five years.

It's demoralizing.

I'm not saying fiction is bad or that we should stop writing it. It's just something I think about. I wonder if it's why I'm a writer - the chance to create that 'importance', even if I can't live it.

What do you think? Anybody else ever had thoughts like these before?


Sorry to be so long-winded!

scarletpeaches
12-15-2006, 02:10 AM
I think fiction can be uplifting because it makes extraordinary the ordinary; it makes the mundane sparkle.

And it can show that even the most nondescript lives can affect other people. It shows us connections that exist...

God, that sounds wanky. Scuse I, just have to remove my head from my own arse.

KiwiChick
12-15-2006, 02:16 AM
One of my writer-friends and I have an on-going conversation about fiction and the way it makes people feel about their lives.

The problem, it seems to us, is fiction's idealized nature. In fiction, things are funny, scary, exciting, and above all "important." There's a sense that even tiny lives and tiny moments matter.

In real life, on the contrary, most things don't matter ...

...

What do you think? Anybody else ever had thoughts like these before?


Sorry to be so long-winded!

I think it's more problem with modern society than with fiction. In the end, we can usually only do things that matter to us, not that change the world. So the question is, what should you be doing that matters to you?

Ol' Fashioned Girl
12-15-2006, 02:17 AM
Not wanky at all, sp. Especially your second line. We have no earthly idea how even the tiniest action on our part can affect another to an overwhelming degree. I'm here typing this now because about 35 years ago I didn't want a pregnant co-worker to find my body. The very mundane act of her coming to work, like she did every morning before and after that morning, saved my life.

JeanneTGC
12-15-2006, 02:17 AM
Without the escape from the humdrum that is fiction, where would that leave us? The desire to tell a story about a great hero, a fantastic event, or a timeless love story is as old as mankind. Without the dreamers, what advances would we ever make? If not for the example of greatness and futility in literature, how many advances in the real world would never have been made?

Any life can be made more important by little things. Many of the people who have made the world a better place would describe themselves as ordinary and dull. How you see yourself and how the world sees you can be very different.

I don't want to live in a world where we aren't allowed to dream. And I feel that books are, in a way, a dream that the authors share with us.

jbal
12-15-2006, 02:17 AM
If fiction wasn't better than real life, why would we read it? Or write it? Nobody wants to read about my life, believe me. I'll take a novel any day.

farfromfearless
12-15-2006, 02:29 AM
It sounds to me as if this is more an issue of loosing touch with reality. Fiction is escapism, it's a temporary respite from our mundane lives. If people can't discern the difference, or if they place value in fiction more than they do in the real world - then it seems to me they should be taking a good hard look at their lives.

veinglory
12-15-2006, 02:52 AM
There is big heroic fiction, equally there is a lot of fiction that shows fairly ordinary things are important--to the people involved. But fiction is, ultimately, fiction. It doesn't comment on one's life any more than clouds or billboards do.

WerenCole
12-15-2006, 03:19 AM
It is in the human genome for people to tell stories. It is embedded in our collective conscious. From the oral history of drama and tragedy to modern day shows of CSI, we want to tell stories. (Also embedded in this psyche, you have to admit, is the human need to kill each other, which, you have to admit, makes it into our stories)


It sometimes is escapist. It sometimes enlightening. It is just something we have to do.

The debate with myself has always been whether people ruin their own lives or whether outside forces are more of the culprit. (I have done case studies on people whose lives have "gone to sh!! and found that a mixture of both is often closer to the truth)

I do not blame fiction. I do not tend to think that people are so arbitrarily defined that they cannot make something out of themselves just because of the way society tells us we should act or how we do act. The people who understand themselves do not hold themselves up to anything else besides the consequences of their own actions. Whether or not that makes good fiction is not something I give a damn about. I have read great literature about a young man who always turns his head to the right while he is thinking (after which I found I do it myself) and what he sees when he does it. I liked it because it was self-aware, but the details were boring. Often he saw a cup, a girl walking away, people getting into an elevator. It was a classic example of a boring life illuminated by the intrigue we find in the mundane. I do not let myself, the banality of life, become overloaded with the obscure notions of meaninglessness. I keep a smile on my face, try not to take anything too seriously and work hard.

There was more of a point here, but I think I got the jist of it out. The bottomline is this: That wad of gum on the floor has a history. It may be boring, it may be senseless, it may have no point at all, but it makes me wonder and that is all I can ever do.

sunandshadow
12-15-2006, 04:01 AM
Fiction evolved because life is boring and humans crave surprises and excitement delivered in a 'safe' way (i.e. vicariously). So, it's not that fiction causes problems by making life seem boring by contrast, it's that the human mind is inherently problematic because it gets bored easily and would perceive life as lacking whether it was exposed to lots of fiction or not. This is known as the "grass is greener" problem - what we don't have always seems better than what we do have just because strange things are inherently more exciting and appealing than normal things.

Carrie in PA
12-15-2006, 04:26 AM
The problem, it seems to us, is fiction's idealized nature. In fiction, things are funny, scary, exciting, and above all "important." There's a sense that even tiny lives and tiny moments matter.

In real life, on the contrary, most things don't matter - at least in a big, fancy way like in stories. We go to work. We pay the bills. We do the laundry. Yawn. We spend all - or most - of our lives in mediocrity. (Not our own mediocrity, really. Just all-over mediocrity.)

I may be niave, hopelessly optimistic, or just plain delusional, but I think that most things do matter, in ways that we can't even imagine.

We never know when a simple smile or braking for the stop sign a little early will make a difference in a chain of events.

I think fiction represents something more ideal, perhaps, and certainly since we control that universe, things work out "perfectly" as far as the writer's goals, but I don't think it's any more meaningful than real life. It's easy to make things meaningful when you control every smallest facet, and here in the real world we really don't have control over much of anything.

mooncars
12-15-2006, 04:33 AM
Dr. Seuss seemed to enrich my life.

Chasing the Horizon
12-15-2006, 04:44 AM
In real life, on the contrary, most things don't matter - at least in a big, fancy way like in stories. We go to work. We pay the bills. We do the laundry. Yawn. We spend all - or most - of our lives in mediocrity. (Not our own mediocrity, really. Just all-over mediocrity.)
[snip]
It makes me sad that our reach so exceeds our grasp. That we hear stories and legends, and long for our lives to feel like that, but they don't.
I have felt this exact way my whole life, though I only recently really understood it. I don't blame fiction at all. To the contrary, I'm very grateful to several pieces of fiction that finally clarified to me why everything seemed so petty to me. The feeling of meaninglessness was always there. Fiction gives me hope that it is possible to lead a life full of great adventure and romance, assuming one is willing to take the risks and make the necessary sacrifices. If I didn't believe there could be more to life than the mundane, then I wouldn't see the point in living at all.

Until such time as I can live my dreams for real, I write about other people living them. I feel more when I'm writing then I ever do in real life. I care about my characters more than I care about real people. That's why I always say the only time I'm happy is when I'm writing and that I will never stop or do anything else, even if that means the bills go unpaid.

I'll stop writing the day I'm living my dream. Until then I'll take my fantasy over other people's reality any day.

So no, BottomlessCup, you are certainly not the only one to have thoughts like this.

Perks
12-15-2006, 04:59 AM
It makes me sad that our reach so exceeds our grasp. Ouch.

A friend, making a strangely soothing point, once asked me to define - in sensorial terms - the difference between a fantasy and a memory. Where do they end up in our minds? Do they look different on replay? Are detailed fabrications so far removed, in actuality, from our own internal histories. For the vivid imagination set (which includes a grand percentage of us here) they are very, very similar.

So in a sense, you get to keep what you dream. I believe it does enrich your life and make your experience broader.

Some people never leave the county of their own frontal lobes.

Soccer Mom
12-15-2006, 05:20 AM
To quote the Mythbusters: (Adam Savage to be exact)

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

jenfreedom
12-15-2006, 07:30 AM
I write non-fiction so I can't relate to writing fiction. But as a reader I like books that highlight the everyday - relationships, children, what it's like to feel all these various emotions. It make me feel like someone else is there going through the same things as me; even if they are just a fictional character. I'd much rather read about these things more than say a wild adventure because it makes me realize that there are extraordinary occurrences everyday - things as simple as going to the store but having a great talk with your child while shopping.

Although, I'm not totally above the random reading adventure. After "Room With A View" I was convinced that my life would be perfect if someone would just run through the rain drenched fields for me...in Italy. Overall though I prefer the amazements of the everyday.

Take care
~ Jennifer

veinglory
12-15-2006, 07:44 AM
Leading lives of quiet desperation is common, I just don't think the existence of fiction is a causal factor.

pepperlandgirl
12-15-2006, 07:52 AM
BottomlessCup, you wouldn't happen to be a fan of Plato, would you? Your argument seems oddly familiar.






My point is, what you see as a problem is absolutely nothing new. It's an ongoing debate in Western thought, thanks to Plato and Aristotle. It varies in terms and conditions, but it comes down to the same thing. (Another interesting variant is the "do violent games create violent children?" meme that gets floated in the media every 3 months).

Allie
12-15-2006, 08:41 AM
Fiction does to people exactly what it's supposed to do. If a person feels empty after reading a book, like their own mundane life doesn't measure up, then they are probably right, it doesn't.

The American dream, taken out of context, is hollow. It makes us sound like a bunch of money grubbing pricks. The American dream is really about providing a better life for your children, not yourself, your children. The American dream only makes sense when it is applied to the betterment of others.

There are a couple main threads that run through all religions in world. The first is that you are not in control of your own world. You have the ability to make all the decisions, but the circumstances around them are not in your control. It could be one of several gods that is running the remote, or only one, but it's not you. The second main thread is that human beings need to put ourselves in the service of each other. It's very important. All heros in books live their life for a greater good. The third thread is that there are people outside of the "in" group who will attack your way of life. These are the "evil" people.

So look at almost any fiction book... No hero in a books has control over their own lives. They are almost always in service to a greater good, and there is almost always an evil force that is threatening.

Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, the Matrix, the Clan of the Cave Bear, and thousands of other follow that pattern. The pattern which is also included in the Bible, the Koran, the story of Budda, Native American legends, and Greek and Roman mythlogy.

Fiction can show people where their own life has drifted off their personal hero path. For example, if you believe that you are really in control of your life, you will be disappointed. Life throws you curve balls with a regular consistancy. Cancer, heart attacks, car crashes, tsumanis, earthquakes, and thousands of other things are simply not in our control. The two most important events in our lives are completely out of our control: birth and death.

And most importantly, If you haven't been able to put someone elses needs over your own, or to live for the greater good, than I'm sure things would seem pretty hollow.

It's not the fault of fiction, it's the fault of the reader. Fiction shows us in blinding lights the way to go about it, but we can't find that path in our own lives. But it's there, it always has been and it always will be, we just need to find it.

So whether you are Muslim, Catholic, Buddist, Hindu, or Native American, the truth is there, it's been under everything our parents were trying to teach us.

So I got very long winded, but my point is this: Let Go, Reach Out and you'll become the hero in your own fascinating life story.

a tree of night
12-15-2006, 08:54 AM
...

You all must read very different books than I do.

BottomlessCup
12-15-2006, 09:18 AM
So whether you are Muslim, Catholic, Buddist, Hindu, or Native American, the truth is there, it's been under everything our parents were trying to teach us.

Yeah. I can't do the religion route. My best friend and I have a long-standing blood-oath to brain the other one with a shovel if they ever go the "born-again" route.

The problem isn't that I find my life mundane. It's that I find all real lives mundane. Your life. Johnny Depp's life. George Bush's life. The things I miss don't exist in the real world. They're fiction.

Maybe it's just a lack of attention span - boredom with inevitable trivialities of life. Maybe it's just classic post-post-adolescent existential angst.

In any case, if fiction doesn't cause it, it gives it form.

mooncars
12-15-2006, 09:23 AM
The mundane drives in search of true meaning. Here's praying you and your friend are afforded that shoveling opportunity very soon.

JeanneTGC
12-15-2006, 09:28 AM
Yeah. I can't do the religion route. My best friend and I have a long-standing blood-oath to brain the other one with a shovel if they ever go the "born-again" route.

The problem isn't that I find my life mundane. It's that I find all real lives mundane. Your life. Johnny Depp's life. George Bush's life. The things I miss don't exist in the real world. They're fiction.

Maybe it's just a lack of attention span - boredom with inevitable trivialities of life. Maybe it's just classic post-post-adolescent existential angst.

In any case, if fiction doesn't cause it, it gives it form.

Maybe you need to stretch yourself and find what the "one thing" is for you that will give your life more meaning. Maybe you haven't interacted with enough people to understand how each life is indeed different and miraculous. And by interacting, I don't mean ordering a coffee from the barista and being polite. I mean finding out what makes that barista tick, why he is happy or sad that day, what he is looking forward to. Get involved in the world around you and it might change your outlook OF the world.

limitedtimeauthor
12-15-2006, 09:43 AM
If fiction wasn't better than real life, why would we read it? Or write it? Nobody wants to read about my life, believe me. I'll take a novel any day.

Are you kidding? Why do you think we're all here? (I mean, other than to talk and learn about writing.)

I like my life. I have meaning in my life. Not that I always think about the meaning behind the little things I do, but I know I affect people - and I hope that usually, I affect them in a positive way.

How many people does it take to champion a cause, to lead the way? Like, one maybe. And then it takes all the rest of us little people to get behind it, move it along, make it happen.

It's a matter of perspective, at least in part.

When I was poor, and couldn't run out to the mall to buy myself a shiny new thing because the electricity bill was due, I used to boost my mood by thinking about how I was "buying" electricity. I wanted electricity, so I sent my money in. You wouldn't believe how gratifying it was to think that way when my friends were out shopping. ;)

Search for the meaning in your life. Why would a fictional character's laundry be any more special than yours? Or how is a hero who saves a child that much different from you feeding yours (if you have them, that is) to keep them healthy and alive? Slugging through the mundane chores of life because it keeps you and the ones you love healthy and tended is more heroic than a brief courageous act. I would pat that hero on the back as much as anyone, but also, I know in my heart that it takes guts to be the guy who does it every day, year after year.

Like Scarlettpeaches said, fiction just shows the importance of it. That, and lets you daydream about fantastical things. :)

ltd.

FergieC
12-15-2006, 02:18 PM
In fiction, things are funny, scary, exciting, and above all "important." There's a sense that even tiny lives and tiny moments matter.

If you believe that makes fiction bad, that's a very depressing belief, because you're essentially arguing that no one's life, and nothing anyone does matters or is important in any way.

If that's the case, why don't we all go and kill ourselves now?

If a tiny moment matters in fiction, it matters for a reason, because it leads to something, or it elucidates something. The character might not realise it at the time; it might seem completely unimportant. Most of their tiny moments, like everyone else's don't lead to anything much (otherwise fiction would be thousands of pages of characters getting up, going to the toilet, putting the washing in etc, etc).

In life, when you look back, you see your own tiny moments that didn't mean anything at the time, but that you realise later had massive significance. Fiction is basically distillation - taking out the mundane and finding the story and meaning behind it.

It would be an incredibly sad life that genuinely meant nothing at all, to anyone, and had no story. (In fact, it would beg for the questions "how" and "why" to be answered, hence there is still a story there).

FergieC
12-15-2006, 02:26 PM
Ooh, that was my 100th post. I'm now officially a board fanatic. :partyguy:

LeslieB
12-15-2006, 03:57 PM
I think the longing to be something greater, to be someone who really matters, is a fundamental part of the human mind. I think the lowest peasant in the Dark Ages had fantasies of finding some lost object and returning it to a noble, and as a result gaining favor and a reward. I think every caveman dreamed of being the one to bring down the really big kill and have everyone in the tribe tell him what a stud he was.

Fiction didn't create those feelings. Fiction simply taps into them. Maybe you think it does because fiction in widely accessable forms (easily bought books, movies, TV, etc.) didn't exist in earlier times like it does now. But the dreams and fantasies were still there, just like they are now. We just have the technology and leisure time to make those fantasies 'public'.

And I disagree that fiction is a bad thing. For every person who is made to feel worthless or insignificant because their live doesn't measure up to a book, there is another who feels inspired to make something more of themselves. When I was growing up, the heroes I read about made me want to do something that would help the world, which is how I wound up working in a crime lab instead of designing video games.

johnnysannie
12-15-2006, 05:21 PM
It all depends on the fiction that you read; some fiction is pure escapism; fantasy or candy for the mind. Some fiction is more realistic, it's a depiction of life.

Read something like "A Garden of Sand" by Earl Thompson for a slice of realism - there's no fantasy there, just gritty everyday life among Wichita's poorest during the WWII years.

Fiction doesn't run lives; people ruin their own lives when they begin to believe their life should be like that of a romance heroine or like the main character of a movie or that life should be like a sit com. Or when people believe that their live will be better or they will be happier or prettier or whatever if they live in a fancy home, dye their hair blonde, get a different job, hook up with a particular person or whatever.

Happiness and contentment are from within. Limited Time Author's thing about buying electricity was wonderful - I applaud it. Rather whine about circumstances, LTA celebrated being able to buy electricity. That's grand.

Higgins
12-15-2006, 06:02 PM
BottomlessCup, you wouldn't happen to be a fan of Plato, would you? Your argument seems oddly familiar.






My point is, what you see as a problem is absolutely nothing new. It's an ongoing debate in Western thought, thanks to Plato and Aristotle. It varies in terms and conditions, but it comes down to the same thing. (Another interesting variant is the "do violent games create violent children?" meme that gets floated in the media every 3 months).


It's an old topic. I've always thought Jane Austen had a good angle on it. Or even Beaumont and Fletcher and Cervantes.

mooncars
12-15-2006, 06:27 PM
Everyone matters. Who's to define what's trivial and what's not? Looking after my family isn't trivial. My writing isn't a necessity.

Kate Thornton
12-15-2006, 07:08 PM
My life is so interesting and exciting that I don't think most fiction can match it. I savor every moment.

I love high adventure fiction, quest science fiction, puzzles, mysteries, museums and tombs in stories, all sorts of thrillers and romances and stories.

But fiction doesn't make my life seem less interesting by comparison. Yes, I pay bills (online!) and cook (with Alton Brown!) and feed the puppies (puppies!) and stuff - but what's not to like? Fiction gives me the feeling that *at any moment* something extraordinary *could* happen.

It makes the ordinary exciting (well, that and the knowledge that nothing is forever and you'd better enjoy it *right now*)

It all gives me even more to write about - all good fiction is, I think, character-driven. It's all about the human condition, it's all about us. What could be more interesting than what makes us - individually and collectively - tick?

greglondon
12-15-2006, 07:25 PM
I believe it is unfair to condemn fiction for its bad instances while ignoring the good it can do as well. Fiction is a package deal.

And I think we are far better off having fiction good and bad than not having fiction at all.

veinglory
12-15-2006, 07:30 PM
The theme through a great deal of religious, ethical and psychological thought is the search to find meaning in one's life. You can't give another person your meaning (e.g. your God).

I find my purpose in my family, my work (which I consider social important and contributing to making the world a better place) and, despite it's lack of enormous literary profundity, my writing.

If you need to find meaning in fame, or helping your fellow humans is not meaning enough, than what exactly are you expecting? If the President's life and every single extant and historical human life is meaningless than so it pretty much anyone's, real or fictional and the question is moot.

icerose
12-15-2006, 07:57 PM
I personally don't compare my life to fiction because it's, well, fiction.

Instead, fiction stirs my blood, pumps up my imagination and revs up my emotions as I escape into a journey I could not experience any other way.

How else could I ride a magic carpet over the rolling sand dunes, or embark on a magic quest across an unknown world into the darkest reaches of the jungle and ruins, fighting against evil?

I love fiction, it sweeps me away and carries me into the unknown as I stand bravely with my companions, taste their sorrows and their joys and become something I never could physically be without the help of some written words?

It would be a sad world when fiction ceases to exist.

So now stop and think about when fiction was created? I would say from the time of man's reasoning. Every man/woman/child who has ever crossed this life has experienced boredom in one form or another. Fiction was created to help fill that gap so that when we weren't working, our minds could partake in the sweetness of someone else's journey, real or imagined.

Allie
12-15-2006, 08:17 PM
The theme through a great deal of religious, ethical and psychological thought is the search to find meaning in one's life. You can't give another person your meaning (e.g. your God).

Exactly, but there is meaning for everyone. I didn't really find it until I had children.

For example, a small moment that is insignificant except in the own context of my life...

My kids, 2 and 4, have a stomach virus, which is pesty because the vomitting hits most often during the night. Changing sheets, cleaning up a kids in the dead of night is not fun. Yesterday, after a night where I got 5 hours of total sleep, my boys and I sat down on the couch in my basement and put in a movie. My kids were miserable, so they both sat on my lap for most of the movie.

It was a small thing, we watched a movie together. But I'll remember it forever... the warm weight of their bodies and their heads tucked under my shoulders... the way the two year old giggled when there was a funny scene... Their complete innocence and their simple joy that I was sitting with them. It was beautiful. They are growing so fast and in a heartbeat they'll be grown. But even when I'm an old woman, I'll have that memory.

This is my meaning. There is one out there for everyone.

Allie
12-15-2006, 08:23 PM
So now stop and think about when fiction was created? I would say from the time of man's reasoning. Every man/woman/child who has ever crossed this life has experienced boredom in one form or another. Fiction was created to help fill that gap so that when we weren't working, our minds could partake in the sweetness of someone else's journey, real or imagined.

I would guess that fiction grew out of legends and morality tales. Just like poetry and music grew out of the need for people to remember things before we could write.

Anonymisty
12-15-2006, 08:37 PM
One of my writer-friends and I have an on-going conversation about fiction and the way it makes people feel about their lives.

The problem, it seems to us, is fiction's idealized nature. In fiction, things are funny, scary, exciting, and above all "important." There's a sense that even tiny lives and tiny moments matter.

Actually, fiction saved me. If I hadn't had books to retreat to, I would probably have sought some more extreme method to relieve my emotional pain as a teenager. I was not one of the pretty kids, or the funny kids, or an athlete. The best I could hope for from my schoolmates was that they ignore me. My real life was a daily nightmare of my peers gleefully assuring me of my inherent worthlessness. I was never so mindless that I believed I could actually become a longlost princess who'd been foretold to save the universe, or something like that. But I desperately needed to believe that even my tiny life might matter. And fiction did that for me.

It's why I started writing. I wanted to do for some future reader what all my favorite writers had done for me.

Anonymisty
12-15-2006, 08:54 PM
But even when I'm an old woman, I'll have that memory.

This is my meaning. There is one out there for everyone.

That was lovely. I'm in tears.

Vincent
12-15-2006, 09:02 PM
It's not the reading that's the worry, it's the thinking that it induces. Thinking is dangerous. It makes people question things. Perhaps the solution is to just burn books.

RTH
12-15-2006, 10:47 PM
If you believe that makes fiction bad, that's a very depressing belief, because you're essentially arguing that no one's life, and nothing anyone does matters or is important in any way.

If that's the case, why don't we all go and kill ourselves now?

Hello, Camus! :)

C.bronco
12-15-2006, 11:21 PM
...

You all must read very different books than I do.

Good point. Fiction serves a lot of purposes, and we aren't all reading the same books.

When you write fiction, you are using the story, plot and characters to communicate something. It's a reflection on life and you'd better believe the author is expressing an opinion.

It's all escapist? Melville wrote some of my favorite short stories, "Bartleby the Scrivener," and "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids." I'd never want to escape into those worlds! But, I think that by reading them, I became better acquainted with a facet of human nature.

Shadow_Ferret
12-15-2006, 11:33 PM
Wow. So essentially, we writers are like pushers. Instead of drugs though we push fantasy. We're enablers, helping people to escape from reality wiht our stories.

I feel so dirty.

jbal
12-15-2006, 11:36 PM
You wanna score some YA fantasy? First page is free.

Bubastes
12-16-2006, 12:04 AM
So now stop and think about when fiction was created? I would say from the time of man's reasoning. Every man/woman/child who has ever crossed this life has experienced boredom in one form or another. Fiction was created to help fill that gap so that when we weren't working, our minds could partake in the sweetness of someone else's journey, real or imagined.

I agree. I would also add that fiction helps us make sense of the world, imposing a structure on what otherwise would seem like randomness. It helps us see the meaning in ordinary events. It's also is a tool for communicating facts and ideas. Dry concepts come to life when placed in the context of story, making them easier to remember.

Stories can help us escape from real life, but they can also bring us closer to it.

WerenCole
12-16-2006, 12:06 AM
You wanna score some YA fantasy? First page is free.


What do I have to pay to publish the rest of it? (Thank you Publish America for giving me this chance. . . wait, what?!)

Unique
12-16-2006, 12:20 AM
What do you think? Anybody else ever had thoughts like these before?

Sorry to be so long-winded!

Fiction is entertainment. If I wanted more, I'd read something else.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
12-16-2006, 02:03 AM
Ooh, that was my 100th post. I'm now officially a board fanatic. :partyguy:

Won't be long before you suffer from AWdiction, like the rest of us!

Azure Skye
12-16-2006, 06:48 PM
I think fiction is the reliever of the mediocre and the mundane, not the creator of the dissatisfaction we feel in our lives.

AnneMarble
12-16-2006, 08:35 PM
Leading lives of quiet desperation is common, I just don't think the existence of fiction is a causal factor.
In fact, I'd venture to guess that many of those who lead lives of quiet desperation don't read fiction, never have, never will, and have no desire to do so. Not that I'm saying their lives would be better if they read fiction -- not everyone likes or even "gets" fiction. But just as some people can read fiction and then have a terrible real life, others can avoid it and still have a terrible real life.

There's a reason (actually many) people have been telling stories since about the time our speech was developed enough to allow that. Long winters (in some areas), long hot days when people sought shelter when the sun was at its peak (in other areas), teaching lessons to the young ones, telling youth about their ancestors, something to do during a repetitive task, bragging about battles, and just plain (gasp) having fun. Maybe there were some cavepeople who moped around and thought "I wish I were like Ugh the Strong." But there were others who, when faced with something challenging, girded their loins and thought "I remember how Ugh the Strong and his followers defeated the charging beast. I hope it will work for us!" :)