On Monday, I asked you to share your thoughts on whether writers must live eventful, “exciting” lives in order to write well and successfully. Your comments led to an excellent discussion; thank you everyone for commenting! I really enjoyed reading what you all thought. Your comments, and one in particular mentioned below, got me thinking about difficult lives versus “easy” lives.
I think I’ve lived an easy life. Yes, there have been unfortunate events; my life is far from “charmed,” but for the most part, I’ve been blessed. My three siblings and I have always gotten along and my parents love and like each other. I’ve always had good friends, a strong, warm roof over my head, delicious food on the table, and plenty of love and laughter. I’ve had a simple past, but a happy one, and it’s continued into the present.
Then I read about those writers who’ve survived through major suffering and turmoil. Their writing is haunting, beautifully raw and emotional. Their voice and style sings to the soul. And they credit such writing ability to their tragic pasts. Sometimes I wonder, can my writing ever be powerful enough to tug at people’s hearts and minds?
Now, I don’t want to write tragic stuff or anything. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I prefer happiness, warm chocolate chip cookies, puppies, sunshine, and bright colors! But we all know that novels need calamitous events to keep readers interested from page one through the end. (Kind of sad when you think about it, that only drama and suffering can hook people anymore.)
On Monday's Post, Kathi Oram Peterson commented: “I used to buy into the ‘you have to live a difficult life to write good books’ theory. I don't anymore. With a good imagination and a ton of research you can write anything.” I really like her comment. I’m open-minded and empathetic; I can put myself in another’s shoes, walk around in them, and imagine what they’ve gone through. I credit my imagination and compassion for the ability to do that. But is imagination really enough for truly powerful and poignant writing? What do you think?
Share with me!
Is is necessary to have a “difficult” life to write compelling stories? Can writers with “charmed” lives write powerfully as long as they’re empathetic, imaginative, and willing to do the research needed?