Now, today I'm once again participating in the TCWT blog chain for the month. (Did you miss my first post on TCWT? Check it out here!) The prompt for December is "What works of fiction have taught you by example and what did they teach you?"
This one is a difficult topic for me, to be honest. Stories and the way they've affected me has always been very personal and, though I'm open about my life and the challenges I face, some things are just not easy to share--in my case, mostly things that involve other people. But for this, I'll tell you that I have been a victim of abuse.
I'm not going to say in what context because a) the situation is bigger than me and b) I'm terrified for my safety just writing this. But for the purposes of this topic, I feel that I need to share. I make an effort in my life to stand up for all kinds of marginalized people and fight prejudices like sexism, ableism, etc. This experience is one of the reasons why this matters so much to me. (Do note: I've seen all this stuff in multiple other contexts too and I'm fighting it because it's just wrong. I'm an idealist. I don't do wrong.)
How does this relate to the prompt? Well, the first thing I think of when I look at this TCWT prompt is the book that made me realize what situation I was in. I can't remember the title of the book anymore, but it was a middle grade/YA novel in which a girl uncovers a cycle of abuse through her family history that explains so much to her about why her family is the way it is--and how she chooses to escape the cycle. (If someone can find this, that would be great, because I've been Googling with no result.)
But at the time I read this book I didn't know anything about that. Reading it opened up a world of understanding to me--because primarily, it focused on emotional abuse. I'd never heard of that before; I hadn't realized that the pattern of behavior being used against me was abusive. But I recognized myself in that book and in that moment, I began to see the truth.
I've read thousands of books in my life and so many of them have had great effect on me. Through fictional worlds and lives, I've learned, I've grown, I've expanded my empathetic ability, I've connected to other humans, I've had a place to turn to in order to make it through the hardest times of my life, and I've become a writer myself. I've learned lots of words that I can't pronounce for the life of me because I've only ever read them, not heard them, haha. I could tell you a hundred other stories about how books have changed and saved me. But no one book has had the effect on me that this book, the title of which I can't even remember, did. That book saved my life because it lit a spark in my mind that allowed me, in future years, to separate from my abuser, to start defending myself, to become the advocate for social justice that I am now.
Today, I still seek out books that have this kind of content because every time I do, I see hope. I see a chance for other people to realize what's happening; I see hope for me breaking out of the cycle completely myself. I can use these books to explain to people what's happening, to gain a better understanding of the psychological and sociological concepts behind all these abuses and prejudices, and to further my own goals in social justice. I try to write books that address these issues as well because I could be the person who saves a life. And so could you, with your words.
Fiction isn't in any way useless or meaningless. It doesn't just exist for entertainment. These things change and save lives. I can testify to that. So all y'all writers and bookworms? Good job. I'm right here with you.
NOTE: I realize most people on the chain took this prompt as what other books teach you about writing rather than about life. So, clearly, I went a different way on this post, but here's a post about the authors I idolize and what they teach me if you're looking for something like that. =) Thanks!
And here's the rest of the TCWT blog chain if you're interested:
5th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
6th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
7th – https://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/
8th – http://introspectioncreative.wordpress.com/
9th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/
10th – http://kirabudge.weebly.com/
11th – http://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/
12th – http://randomosityofeden.wordpress.com/
13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
14th – http://www.alwaysopinionatedgirl.wordpress.com/
15th – http://www.juliathewritergirl.wordpress.com/
16th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
17th – http://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/
18th – http://unironicallyexcited.wordpress.com/
19th – http://theboardingblogger.wordpress.com/
20th – http://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/
21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
22nd – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/
23rd – http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com/
24th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/
25th – [off-day]
26th – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/
27th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/
28th – http://www.pamelanicolewrites.com
29th – http://jasperlindell.blogspot.com.au/
30th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/ and http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/
31st – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/
Images via northernsun.com and thesundayleader.lk