I’m passionate about fiction, and not just because it’s fun to read. I believe firmly that fiction has a purpose. I believe it meets a collective cultural need, and that without it, in a very real way, we’d be lost.
I’m not talking about any one genre or any single work. I think we’d be okay as a society without, oh, I don’t know…Twilight, for example. We’d probably even manage without the genre Twilight represents: young adult paranormal romantic fiction. (Though, God knows, there are enough books being written in that one genre alone right now, you’d think we need them as badly as we need oxygen.)
But, regardless of how I feel about Twilight and books like it, they are a part of the much-needed whole. And it is the very fact that I don’t like every form of fiction that illustrates why so much variety is needed: because different books appeal to different people.
All those stories serve a purpose. They motivate us. They keep us dreaming. They give us hope. They fuel our imaginations and push us to continue to strive for something more. Fiction is an escape, a challenge, a romp and a relief, all rolled into one. It’s nothing short of magic.
And I can’t say this enough–we need it.
If you write fiction, no matter what style, genre, target audience or length, you’re a part of the rich heritage of story-tellers. Story-tellers have been helping humanity sift through issues great and small for as long as people have had the ability to communicate. What you do when you sit down to write is important, even if you’re the only person who reads your work.
Revel in that. Be proud to be a part of such a long-standing tradition. Allow that pride to positively impact your work, pushing you to do your best and enhancing the sense of satisfaction you feel when you finish a piece.
According to Wikipedia, the phrase “here be dragons” has a long history of indicating that an area is “dangerous or [includes] unexplored territories, in imitation of the medieval practice of putting dragons, sea serpents and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas of maps.” We fiction writers are the map makers of such territories. Through our stories, we help ourselves and others to explore, conquering all kinds of beasts and monsters along the way.
That’s the power of story, and it’s a power you wield. Never forget that.