I’ve wondered often, especially lately, whether fiction matters, whether it’s worth my time and energy and limited resources to try to create it. I worry about the world I’m living in. I worry that I should direct all of my energy and time toward changing it, leaving no fuel leftover for silly pursuits like fiction writing.
And then I come across something that changes my mind, something that reminds me that fiction is important.
Because fiction can speak truth to power in a way that reaches people, not just in the moment, but over time. Pratchett can illuminate the way our real world works while we feel like we’re escaping it. Hemingway can capture aspects of war that got overlooked by history books and are now preserved only in fiction. Even the most fantastic fiction – Lord of the Rings – can provide a view into humanity that real life misses, distorts or forgets. In the case of Lord of the Rings, it is the toll of war, the reality of the trenches, the lingering horror of what real people witnessed, experienced and could never fully process.
I’ve come all the way around on this issue because of articles like the one recommended here. Fiction is more important than ever. We are living in a time when the news isn’t news, when facts aren’t facts, when no source is trustworthy. And in such a time, I, at least, will be looking to fiction to preserve the truth of this moment in a way nothing else can or will.