A writer’s job is to ask if something is possible and then argue, through their stories, that it can or can’t be done.
A reader’s perogative is to enjoy it, whether it is possible or not. If they like it enough, they’ll hold the idea in their mind and explore it for meaning and possibility themselves.
And then some day, some scientist or tech wizard or mathematical minded reader will test and prove the theory that otherwise existed only in a story.
Can these theories be thought up by other people and not just writers? Of course!
But a story, when done right, lodges the idea in the imagination to percolate longer and give rise to new ideas over time. It starts the idea on the creative side of the brain. And who knows what that does to the scope of the ideas.
Tl;dr – STEM is important, we need people to believe in science again. And the Arts are important because we need people to WANT to believe in science again. They are all equally vital to society and human development.
Something I wish more writers understood is the notion that words are free.
The thing nobody wants to admit is that the written word isn’t just computer code with only one right answer to unlock the desired command. Any old word choice might not always do. It isn’t like standing up and talking out a salespitch to convince somebody that your idea is best. You can’t rewind and edit a verbal conversation, especially when it relies on context, voice volume and tone, and even body language to communicate an idea or achieve a result.
The written word doesn’t have those same shortcuts and requirements. All you have is the letters on the page. This is because the written word is “spoken” in the Reader’s Voice. In the Reader’s head. It has to resonate with the Reader, not with the Writer. It doesn’t matter what the Writer thinks of their work if it means nothing to the Reader. Anybody can make words happen, but that doesn’t mean they’ll hit the mark on the first try.
Yes, words are hard. Finding the perfect combination of words, to form the perfect sentence, to craft the perfect paragraph, and fill the perfect page… all of that takes hard work. Real work.
But once those words are on the page, whether written on paper in pencil or pen, or written in a digital document, those words are then easily changed. They can be rearranged into something even better than what they started out. They are not set in stone. They can be perfect words and yet still be rearranged to fit better.
The only thing preventing the better draft becoming the final product is simple effort.
It occurs to me that there is a lot I don’t know about the world. I will freely admit this. I will often ask questions of people who don’t want to form answers, because they know things I don’t. I want to learn. I want to experience. I don’t have the means to do everything I might possibly want to accomplish, but I have the resources to learn about them.
There’s a lot out there. The most genius among us as humans have not experienced everything there is to life.
So the question is, what is out there that I want to do? So far, with what I know, and what I have seen, somehow, that list is still rather small. I don’t have a Bucket List, and at my age, maybe I should.
But what I have learned is that life is the experience. The expectation implied by a to-do list is just an illusion. Life does what life wants. Sometimes the best experiences you don’t see coming until they are at your doorstep and opening the door (because maybe they aren’t always the most polite of guests.) Words and plans are insubstantial, just dreams in the mind. Life is something you don’t know until you see it.
Right now, I have the rare opportunity to seek out my own adventures with my time. I’m not entirely sure I know what to do with it. But I’m going to try. And first up is volunteering in my community, with that very first training day tomorrow. So we shall see how it goes.
That’s life! Little adventures, learning, exploring, sharing, helping, doing. The collection of stories to tell instead of merely the telling of them.