Don’t get me wrong; I love writing stories. You probably didn’t know but I actually really like stories. Reading them as well as writing them.
But sometimes, I just get a feeling that it’s all a bit pointless. This was brought to my attention recently by an article in the newspaper about an author who wrote about his life, which was fairly normal. First, though, before I get to that, here is an excellent quote, from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which is an excellent book:
This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up.
Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species. I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Although I agree with this (and dissecting books sentence by sentence in English ruins them completely and forever) it’s also not quite true. There are things you can learn from stories – one of them being the power of words, and another one being that words are useless.
Books are places to escape in. You get into the world, but then you have to leave it. It breaks a little bit of me each time I have to stop reading an amazing book. And I have to accept that it’s just not real. When I write, I always try to think of something to break this pattern, to make the story real and not just a story, but I can’t without ruining the plot. So I guess I’ll just keep on going like that, until I either become a good enough writer to convey this or someone invents something amazing.
Still, the question is always there, in the back of my head: do the words I’m writing mean anything, or are they just part of a story?