I’ve been thinking a lot in the past couple weeks about the subtitle I chose for this blog. Why not, “Story time!” or “Who brought the marshmallows?” or “Why to be careful checking out a stack of books about witchcraft because a student might think you’re trying to summon the devil”? (Another story for another time.)
See, people say teenagers think they’re invincible. But when I was a teenager, I was pretty disillusioned. Books had promised me a lot about this world. That good people would get what they deserved, and bad ones too. That friends were loyal and enemies could see the light. That I’d be able to make a difference. But around my junior year, most of those promises had been undelivered. I was also realizing how big in scope some of the world’s problems were, far beyond the power of a 16-year-old who couldn’t even vote. It started sinking in that maybe the world wasn’t going to turn out the way I’d thought it would and that there was nothing I could do about it.
So, I sought solace in writing. If my real life didn’t have those things I wanted, at least I could write about them. In the online community, I met other readers who longed for those things, and we spoke to each other in story-form.
Then, I came across this quote by Chuck Palahnuik:
“The first step—especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money—the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.”
My own beliefs had shifted through reading fiction, from the classics to amateur works. Writing had helped me work through my own beliefs regarding everything from what a good relationship should look like to what justice means. So when I read this quote, I decided instead of resigning myself to the world as it was, I could be active in making it better. My role? I would write the books.
I really do believe that culture drives our society. TV shows, books, art, songs have ways of getting around the barriers of what we think we believe to pose different ideas for how things could be. They get shared across party lines as entertainment, but offer the opportunity to relate to someone different, even if that person is fictional.
The U.S., and maybe the world at large, recently revealed itself as far more divided than most of us ever understood. And a lot of people, especially young people, are wondering how to amplify their voices and change minds.
Write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.
Create the world you want to see.