What Fiction *IS* Good For

February 21, 2012

As expected, the English teacher sister picked up on the back to back posts that appear to express opposing views of fiction.  I have to admit that up until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t quite understand this apparent dichotomy either.  As much as I dislike reading fiction, I very much enjoy writing it.

Past the creative writing assignments in high school, I didn’t really do any creative writing for many years.  Then I started playing an MMORPG (Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) and my character in the game sparked my imagination.  It helped that there were others in the game who also enjoyed thinking of their characters as part of a story, a work of collaborative fiction written through dialogue and actions in the game.

Just for fun, and only for my own benefit, I began actually writing down some of my character’s adventures.  Yes, I know that sounds completely nuts to most folks.   It’s ok, I’m a geek. I’m used to that kinda thing.  😛

As I shared my stories with a few trusted friends in game, I heard the same things over and over.

“That’s so cool.  I wish I could do that.  But I’m not a writer.  I can’t do that.”

Something I’d always felt, but never really articulated, became clear in my conversations with folks.  In school we’re taught that fiction has a set value.   Whether it’s based on study and critique, popularity, historical or political importance or how many hours you can spend analyzing the themes and symbolism… there’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fiction.  Fiction has value or a lack of value based on these external criteria that someone else (always smarter than you) has determined.

It seems to me that a lot of folks come out of school and avoid creative writing because they don’t feel they can produce something of value.   I think they’re missing the point.  The value is in creating.

I’m not a ‘writer’.  Not by a long shot.  Some of my stories are downright corny.  Most wouldn’t be of interest to anyone but a fellow gamer…. and one who liked to roleplay… and probably only one that knew me…. and was very polite.   😛

But I had so much fun writing those stories!  I still enjoy reading back over them from time to time, remembering when this or that happened to my character.  Those stories may not have any value to anyone else, but they do to me.  And that alone gives them value.

This realization made me much more bold about sharing my silly fiction with others.  I’m not at all shy about encouraging fellow gamers to take the time to write their stories out as well.

“It’s ok if it’s ‘bad’.  Mine is too!  It’s a lot of fun.  Try it!”

Some write a lot, some write just a little.  But I think everyone finds value in the process of creating.  And that’s really the thing I most want the kids in the adventure story class to take way as well.

So how can it be that I enjoy creating fiction but not enjoy reading it so much?  Well, I found an answer recently when a friend challenged me to read The Hobbit…. cause how can I call myself a geek if I haven’t read it?!

I got half way through the book.  It only took that long to realize why I don’t enjoy reading fiction.  It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the story.  It’s that I feel like I’m wasting time when I’m reading.  I’d just rather be creating than spending gobs of time reading someone else’s creation.

Yes, yes.  I realize that not reading fiction very likely dooms me to being a pretty crappy writer forever more.

But you know what?  Macaroni art is still art… and it’s fun to make! 🙂

2 Responses to “What Fiction *IS* Good For”

  1. Cammie Says:

    haha – I think it just boils down to you and I have completely opposite views on this subject. 😉 Happy writing!

  2. oh well… Im glad you like my stories! 🙂

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