For well over 10 years, I’ve been actively (and sometimes inactively) blogging. During most of this time I have been pondering about becoming an author, writing books mostly about religion, spirituality, “the Christian experience”, and society.
I’ve yet to pull the trigger on getting that first book written though I have around a couple of dozen ideas sketched out on my digital devices.
During this time I had only been interested in writing non-fiction works, since that is what I am mostly interested in reading. Yet, when I look back at some of my favorite works, and the most well-known literature in history, it’s not the non-fiction works that have staying power...
It’s largely fictional works.
For 10 years I’ve been asking myself that same question...
Here are some of my quick thoughts about why I think story (whether fictional or non-fiction) wins out:
1. Story compels the human experience
While non-fiction work certainly has an impact on developing our lives in positive ways, fictional/narrative work has a way of explaining truths in more compelling, relatable ways. Humans are relational creatures, and humans love a good story. The love of story is what keeps us connected.
2. Story challenges the human assumptions
We all have beliefs/values/morals that confict with one another, and many times these beliefs separated from the humanness of said beliefs create division and hate. You can hate something until you have to confront it head on in the form of a loved one, and then you began to rethink everything.
3. Story cultivates the human spirit
When we listen to and read each other’s stories and experiences, we have to find deep within us empathy, compassion, and other ideals that make us altruistic humans, and not the garbage humans we can be many times online or in person. We are better because of each other if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and humble.
To be clear, I think non-fiction work is important and it has a place in our lives for our growth and fulfillment; but there is nothing like a good story. Story taps into the human experience unlike non-fiction works. Read a good memoir about a topic and then read a non-fiction work about said topic. You’ll probably like both, but you’ll be touched and drawn by the memoir because it hits it places that non-fiction simply cannot.