While not everybody I’ve ever met has loved a good story I’d say many of the people I know have, at some point in their lives, enjoyed the telling of an enjoyable yarn. It’s commonly understood that human beings have been telling stories around campfires for millennia and although our story telling media have changed over the generations, I think it’s probably safe to say that the appreciation of a good story has not.
So why do people write—and read—fiction?
I think a big part of the answer lies in the human need for entertainment. Diving into an invented story is a wonderful way to escape our daily lives and try on a different world for a while. Fiction takes us out of ourselves and into a place of wonder, delight, danger and mystery. It allows us to put down our fears, anxieties and problems for a while and get a break from the distracting worries that sometimes fill our days.
Writing fiction allows us to put ourselves in the driver’s seat of collective imagination and help readers try on a world they might not, as yet, have imagined living. It gives us the chance to put in front of our readers an alternate reality that might give them insights into the problems they themselves are facing and perhaps inspire a way of being that is more comfortable, fulfilling or enjoyable.
Fictional narrative is about tickling the fancy of readers in a way that non-fiction rarely can. I love a good biography as much as the next person. And while the lives of famous people are usually first-rate stories themselves, there’s something delectable about the possibilities inherent in a story that is, for all intents and purposes, not the least bit true. And such stories help us to wonder, “Could it ever be?”
Fictional stories trigger the imagination in ways that non-fiction might not. They allow us to explore worlds that the three dimensions around us don’t admit, to suspend the cold hard facts of our own reality and wander around in a world of “What if?” Fiction allows us to dream, analyze, explain and understand our lives, and our purpose, in ways we hadn’t yet considered. It can surprise us and it can bridge the gap between our own understanding of life and that of another person.
As either a writer or a reader of fictional stories, we can enjoy the experience of stretching the envelope of our existence to larger boundaries. And, quite often, stories are just plain fun. And who has too much fun anymore?
There’s a special place on our shelves for fiction and although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I think it’s safe to say that fiction, with its long history of survival in human society, is here to stay.
If you would like to order a copy of either my novel, “Shades of Teale” or my book of creative non-fiction stories, “Passages to Epiphany,” you can either get in touch with me directly at email@example.com or find them on Amazon!