Friday, January 23, 2015

The Power of Story to Convey Truth

by Kelly

Recently my mom was bragging on me (I love my mom. She would brag on me if I was sitting at home eating Pringles every day). She was sharing the news with a group of friends that I have a book coming out in March (Miss You Once Again by Hot Chocolate Press). Almost everyone was polite and congratulatory, but there’s always That One.

That One: Is her book non-fiction?

Mom: No, it’s fiction.

That One: Oh, fiction? You mean just like a made up story?
                 Subtext: Not important, real information you mean? 
                               Just silly, imaginary stuff?

I have noticed a bit of snobbery among certain types (like That One) to classify fiction as several ticks below non-fiction on the writing hierarchy. The underlying assumption seems to be that information, vision, truth can only be expressed in a didactic, non-fiction manner.

Maybe that’s true for some folks (and listen, I’m not going to pick up a fictional story on landscaping, financial savings, or how to self-edit. Non-fiction is important, helpful, and beautiful, especially when it solves that thing that you were wondering about or teaches you about a specific interest or event).

HOWEVER ...

The deeper parts of me, my heart and soul have been more inspired, challenged, and enriched by story than most non-fiction I’ve ever read.

For example, mamas can tell their kids all day long, “don’t lie” but the fable of the The Boy Who Cried Wolf imprints itself a whole lot stronger on a child’s consciousness than an exposition on a moral behavior.

Conversely, I learned all the horrible statistics of the Holocaust in history class, but the movie Schindler’s List impacted me more than a textbook ever did.

Lastly, when I worked in Kosovo with a humanitarian aid/missions group following the Yugoslav Wars, it was rich, beautiful or funny fiction books (Anna Karenina, The Bridge on the Drina, Bridget Jones’s Diary) that fed my soul. Not manuals on humanitarian work, Eastern European Culture and Ethnic Genocide.

Story has a way of getting to the very core of our being and sticking with us throughout our entire lifetime. That’s why we force high school kids to study the classics—educators recognize that the essence of humanity is in all that fiction.

It’s probably safe to say nothing I will ever write is destined to be a classic, but if I impart even a little truth or beauty, that’s good enough for me. 

4 comments:

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Kelly -- Just remember, that even "silly, imaginary stuff" entertains readers by taking them out of their every day lives and transporting them to new and interesting places. Long live fiction!!!

April Moore said...

Couldn't agree more, Pat! Even those who criticize fiction probably watch television shows and movies--which are mainly "made up stories," right?

Kelly Baugh said...

Thanks ladies! And made up stories teach us to dream and become who we are as adults, right? I mean I didn't turn out to be a veterinarian astronaut, but dreaming has taken me on some pretty amazing adventures.

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