Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Role of Writer

April 1, 2007
It seems pretty clear to me what my job is as a nonfiction writer. It's to inform, to educate, sometimes to analyze. Even in NF, there's a need to entertain so the rest of the job is more effective.

With fiction, on the other hand, the job is to entertain, period. Sure, you might educate, and a few egomaniacs think they know more about life than their readers, so they think their job is to "enlighten" but I figure my ego is just big enough to think my daydreams are powerful enough or skillfully produced that people might choose to share them versus, say, watch TV, rent a video, surf the Internet, have sex, go out to eat, mow the lawn, clean house, talk to their spouse, talk to their kids, walk the dog, clean out the kitty litter or stare vacantly into space.

I'm reminded--and not just because it's April Fool's Day--that modern society places a high premium on entertainment. Human beings probably always have, even if it's that particularly good storyteller in the cave that everybody wants to hear. I always love it when anthropologists go on about the religious aspects of cave paintings. I think, "Or they were bored with nothing better to do." So lest we get all carried away with our egos, I think we as writers should remember that we are nothing more than the court jesters of our age. And by the standards of TV, movies and rock stars, even the most successful novelists are mere second-hand jesters, at that.

Which reminds me again, of course, that there is another word for jester.


Mark Terry


Sylvia Hubbard said...

in that case, if i read correctly, i don't mind being a fool. I'm a dreamer as well and I think i do my role as a writer very well.

Thansk for the post Mark!

Mark Terry said...

I wouldn't underestimate the importance of the storyteller to human beings.

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