The Power of Writers

When I don’t write, the world doesn’t end.

Why should it end? No reason, absolutely none. The sun, the stars, the men and women who people this planet – none of them are affected by what a twenty-one-year old does or doesn’t do with her time. It would be a terrible responsibility, a massive and frightening one, to be able to affect so much. It would be power beyond words, power so overwhelming that it would be too much for any single, sane human being to deal with.

Then again… as writers, isn’t that exactly what we do? We create worlds and people them with our characters, people who are real enough to us that we’re willing and eager to spend our days with them. When we neglect them, their world stops entirely. They cannot go anywhere, cannot find out what the next part of their story is without us. We have ultimate, godlike power over them. What an incredibly frightening notion.

I’m making all this sound much more grandiose than it is, of course. Obviously, the worlds and people we create aren’t real, not really real, not real like you or I or our next-door neighbors. Then again, when I read a book and get into it, its story becomes real to me as long as I’m engrossed. Anything less than my total involvement and belief in the characters is, in my opinion, a kind of failure of that book or story. Even fantasy or sci-fi aren’t doing their job if I don’t believe in the possibility of the people, the magic, the worlds being real.

When I look at writing this way, it terrifies and exhilarates me at the same time.


5 thoughts on “The Power of Writers

  1. I perfer to imagine that the people and places I create are real, and living out
    there in some parelle universe – whilst I am remotely viewing them. When I write
    I am not creating, so much as copying their images into words. The story already
    exists – it is merely my job to follow and learn from the caracters, it is they who tell me how it will end. The statue already exists in the marble they say . . .

    It would be cool if the world really did revolve around your writeing though –
    Just think – if a bad writer was as dangerous as a bad open heart surgeon –
    people like you would be making lots of money.

    • I often think of what I write like you do – as if I’m just the secretary who’s writing down whatever happens to these characters. But sometimes it feels like an almighty, all-powerful kind of thing – writing, that is.

  2. Erin M says:

    Love it! =]

    It reminds me of one of my favourite moments in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus . . . let’s see if I can find the quote.

    “What exactly do you all do here?”

    “We tell the eternal story.”

    “And, what is that exactly?”

    “The story that sustains the universe. The story without which there is nothing.”

    “Nothing? You mean, if you stop telling this story, the universe
    ceases to exist?”

    (At this point, Tom Waits uses his devilish powers to stop everyone in the room from speaking . . . and the universe doesn’t stop. Christopher Plummer eventually realizes:)

    “It has nothing to do with us here. Somewhere in the world, right now, someone else is telling a story! A different story! A saga, a romance, a tale of an unforeseen death. It doesn’t matter! It’s sustaining the universe.
    That’s why we’re still here. You can’t stop stories being told!”

  3. I think you’re right, books do feel real to people, at least the good ones do. It’s why people get so angry when they don’t like the ending of a novel. Sometimes when I’m writing, I have to remind myself that my characters are not real, so I can do what I need to to them to move the story forward.

  4. Us writers definetly do have power. I love getting involved in the worlds I create and watching the characters grow and mature. There’s a particular story I’ve put down for the time being, however, I’d hate to let that world I’ve created die. So perhaps I’ll get back to it. Excellent post!

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