Who will agree with me? Writers write to improve, to help, to add sunshine in a cloudy world, to open new ideas for their readers.
And to entertain. But, for me, that's secondary. In fiction, to entertain by titillating sexually, describing violence in detail, or to horrify, are way out of the picture in importance. There is already too much of that in real life. Why should we add to it or affirm it? Then, as someone who might be identified as an unrealistic dreamer, a prude, Pollyanna, (or a devout Christian, which is definitely true) what good things would I like to see in a book?
For a non-fiction writer, the answer can be easy. Non-fiction usually offers what I call the "ER benefit." That's pronounced "UR" and the book may promise to help a reader be prettier, stronger, wiser, wealthier, smarter . . . you get the idea. ER books sell.
But, what about fiction? In this day of click-zip entertainment only a finger poke away, what do we offer? I think it should be more than entertainment or even simply a mysterious puzzle to solve, (though exercising our mind can be seen as positive). I prefer reading fiction novels that offer some type of benefit in addition to entertainment. It can be a broader understanding or insight into the human condition and some problem it presents. For example, how about a character with a problem people we know in real life (even ourselves) may have, who works his or her way out of that problem, overcoming mountainous obstacles along the way.. (Ah, a new light on what's troubling me.)
So, you can see that writing toward positive solutions, using creative ideas, thinking, thinking, thinking through darkness to sunlight has another benefit. It helps the writer. There are world problems we can't solve personally. There will be problems in our own lives. But . . . why not try to understand, think through, and then work out solutions to a problem or problems in writing, though this will be for fiction people? I have done it, and, at one point, words I had given to one of my characters several years earlier helped me see through a dark time.
We do write about some aspect of the human condition. Writers, after all, live in the same world their readers do, and are often even more sensitive to what's going on in that world, and can be more thoughtful about "a way out" than others. Our writing is based on ideas and insight. That's a huge plus when we think up some awful problem--or problems--for our characters, then work out solutions inside our heads and write them down, creating an exciting story along the way.
What do you think? My writing path works for me. What about you? Entertainment, plus--what?
I wish you happy, happy holiday memories and celebrations during this month.