JK: To Move
To move, that’s what fiction is all about. As a young writer interested initially in poetry (wretched little poems is what I wrote) I never imagined other people would one day read my work. During my school years, teachers would often read my answers to tests out loud to the class and while that moved me (I was horrified to be singled out) I didn’t know if my words ever moved other students. When I became a mental health director some years later with writing as a career quite far from my mind, I found I could move people with my words. I’d write about problems in the mental health system and what we needed to correct them and receive calls from legislators or state administrators asking what they needed to do to keep me from sending those letters that made them sad and angry all at the same time. I’d moved them to notice and better yet, to actually make a call. Often, change would occur and I was grateful.
So making the leap to fiction shouldn’t have been so surprising, I guess. Someone once told me that if a writer can move people with an essay, then they can write fiction because fiction is about emotion; it’s about touching people; it’s about moving them in some way, hopefully in to action that might make a better world or even help someone make a personal change for the better.
I think that’s why I have such trouble with some of the films and some of the popular fiction today that seem to celebrate deaths of children, gory images that move a viewer to leave the theater perhaps; or worse, glorify death and destruction. I’ve given myself permission to leave those movies unfinished and to put down books that are going that direction for the same reason. As a writer, I want to move people but I want to move them toward compassion in a world of conflict. That doesn’t mean I’ll write about sweet things or people – life is full of conflict – but I want to leave the reader with a sense of hope and where to find it.
Jane Kirkpatrick www.jkbooks.com