Thursday, March 21, 2013

How a Writer's Mind Works

I’ve noticed a contradiction.

On the one hand, I believe that everyone has a story worth telling. I don’t care who you are, there’s a story only you can share with the world, and the world will always be missing something if you don’t tell it. You might not know what that story is or how to tell it, but that story is there.
On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that writers are different. We don’t think the same way that other people do. John Green was on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson recently, and they talked about it. (In case you don’t know, John is a bestselling writer of funny, sad, geeky, wonderful novels for teens, like The Fault in Our Stars, and Craig has written a novel, as well as an honest, funny, and moving memoir.) John pointed out that writers are always seeing the possibilities in everything, and we choose to write the possibilities that make particularly good stories. That’s very true. I know I’ve always been that way, and it makes me weird. I don’t see the world the way most people do. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m always seeing possibilities, always asking, “What if?”

So how can I believe that everyone should tell his or her story, when I also believe that there’s something about the way writers think that make us different? Not special, just . . . different?

Maybe it’s our job to show our readers the possibilities.

Maybe we need to plant questions in our readers minds that stay with our readers after the book is closed. Maybe we need to plant these questions to help our readers see the world in new ways. 

And maybe in doing so, we can hope that they too will start to see the possibilities in everything, including in themselves and the stories only they can tell. 

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