I think one of the most exciting and terrifying things about working on a BFA in creative writing for the next two years, is that I’m going to have to decide what kind of writer I am.
One thing that helped me decide to pick Goddard was that the application asked me how I would use writing to work toward social change. They do say the pen is mightier than the sword, don’t they?
But is it possible for a novel to change things?
As I write this I’m watching a Harry Potter marathon on television with my daughters.
We live in a technical, industrial age don’t we?
When I was a kid we got a few hours of cartoons on Saturday morning, and the rest of the week television was for grown-ups. We had 8 channels. Today my family gets 200 via satellite, and at least half a dozen of those play cartoons or other kids shows 24/7.
My son has a video game system that lets him play games I would have had to take the bus to the mall with a pocket full of quarters to play for an hour or two before I got bored or broke. Kids can spend all day alone in their rooms with their games if they choose (and are allowed.)
We have a desk top and three laptop computers in our house. At any given time, all three of my children plus me or Kevin can be online. We also have four cell phones (me, Kevin, Adrienne, and Nick.)
So can a novel make a difference in a world that keeps trying to be paperless? In an electronic world that seems hell-bent on doing away with anything as old-school and time consuming as a paperback novel?
I can think of only one thing that has scores of people bursting at the seams with excitement, having midnight parties so that they can get their hands on it as soon as humanly possible.
It isn’t a video game. Or a new cellphone or television. It isn’t even a movie (although the movies that come from it do inspire excitement.)
It’s a book.
And I would say that a story that can encourage millions of children to crack tomes thicker than their math books means that books can make a difference.
Can I make a difference?
Maybe someone writing a really good story about peak oil or climate change will have an impact that a lecturing article or non-fiction book that just puts people on the defensive might not.
And if that story is aimed at the generation who is going to be left with this mess?