Writing is powerful because it mimics thought. So when we read someone’s work we are experiencing their thoughts and experiences. The Author’s expertise in their own world allows them to unpack it for us in interesting and informative ways. Some people might argue that Art generally has lost some of its force. This is a dangerous contention in a time and place where were are saturated in other peoples thoughts and stories, their Art we could say.
In tracking “Literature” if thats what we want to call it, from ancient oral traditions to when it was finally put down on paper, and then again reborn in Cinema and Modern Media, you can follow all of known human history. Not creating in our understanding discrete descriptions of each of this different epochs, could lead to a misunderstanding of the true power of the Word and Imagination. Media has become so commercialized, so ubiquitous, that people take the abilities and skills of the Creators for granted. And this is not good, because human civilization is now predicated upon these things.
I think there is a real anachronism to modern interpretation of older and ancient literature. The dismantling of the true meaning of “Myth”, reduced that great Art to mere Fiction. Somehow great minds of the past have been put on the same level of hackneyed James Patterson novels. Worse actually, they are not considered at all. To reemphasize my original point here, doing this to ancient literature, has also led to a great forgetting about our collective world history, again a point for the great power of Art.
Writing is unique as it works both as a time capsule and prophecy.This is the power of reading because it allows us glimpses into all sorts of key moments in history, and lets us evaluate everything from hindsight, with updated knowledge.
Any writing no matter how benign is part of this process. This is why journals are so important, because they data sample specific days and peoples. We can use these “primary materials” to build our collective histories. We can see with all these points, how writing/reading are the grounds of understanding, the basis of understanding.
Writing and reading are powerful because they make you smarter. Trying to articulate your interesting ideas in a comprehensible way will makes you a better communicator in other probably less demanding situations. The limits of our vocabulary are the limits of our ideas. Reading another person’s interesting and particular history can give us new tools to face our own issues, and give us needed perspective.
Lastly, but most importantly, writing is important because it is effective. Books like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, or Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stow, exposed the horror of a specific life and made other societies take notice of the issue. It was the ability of people to read these experiences, and live them themselves that built that relationship of empathy, which was necessary for change.
I think it is important for us as writers to take back the power of writing. This is occurring in the trend of ebooks, I think. They allow greater access between cultures classes. Same time this new form only to a inflationary bubble of information. We as creators of the written word need to start thinking about evolving the Craft itself. Of course this is exactly what we are finding in Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and online videos and animation, people that are pairing the written word with other stimuli and creating new artistic tools. I even think something like Stephen King’s interconnected archetypes and characters in the Dark Tower series is another way that we can really multiply the power of the written word.
The point was though, people are overloaded and so they look at Art as mostly entertainment and escape currently. The problem and awesomeness remains, good Art works whether or not people want to pay attention to it. You ignore the mechanics of Art at your own risk. Just like if you don’t know how to change a tire, but drive a car. That’s my point I think, we as writers need to recognize and cultivate this powerful Craft, because the world depends on it!