Why read stories? Why write stories?

I am currently immersed in reading about writing. Several authors have briefly mentioned why they write and why readers read, but the comments were brief in each case. I started to wonder "Why do we read stories, and why do we write stories?" There are a few answers.

Here is a picture of some of the books on writing that I am reading. (I'm sure I will go over some of them in future posts.)

I started looking through some of my favorite books trying to find a pattern of some kind. "What do I like about these stories?" I noticed a general similarity in the effect they have had on me. Each one expanded and/or changed my perspective on life in some way. The subjects are a lot different between Replay, The Dice Man, Siddartha, Zorba the Greek, Candide, Faust, The Ten Thousand, etc., but their similarity lies in the fact that they had an effect on my perspective. There is some research that I found on this, and I will put some of those links at the end, but some of the things that I thought of are very different and possibly very powerful.

Value is in the eye of the beholder, as is motivation, just like beauty. That explains the concept of the subjective theory of value. Therefore there can be many disparate reasons for doing the same thing, and a single reason in different people may lead to different actions. Here are the reasons I came up with for reading.

To enjoy beauty, the beauty of the writing and the story.

To see truth, sometimes great truths are best expressed in fiction.

To add excitement to life.

To escape some aspect of life.

To add new experiences and live vicariously.

To add or change perspective.

For self-discovery.

For self-transformation.

I think that writing can have all of these same reasons as well, and a few can be added to that list. Of course there is fame and fortune, but there is also the feeling of creating people and worlds. Creating beauty, showing truth, adding excitement, escaping and helping others to escape, living and giving vicarious experiences, adding and changing perspectives in the self and others, discovering the self and helping others to discover theirs, transforming the self and helping others to transform theirs.

There is probably a powerful personal story somewhere in me about reading, and maybe about writing, that I want to bring forth at some point, but I have to find it first. It almost seems to be discovery in its broadest sense; discovering human nature, the world, life, and self. For many decades I did this through reading, then I did it through life experiences and adventures, now I am doing it through writing.

You are welcome to join me and we can both discover what I do next at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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