So. Meaning is something that, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I harp on about quite a bit. That’s because – oddly enough – I think it’s important. (To which my inner nine-year-old is laughing hysterically: meaning is important, ah ha ha!).
This is something that gets debated a lot, in one form or another, overtly and covertly, between any big enough group of writers: should writing mean something, or at least strive to mean something, or is it enough to merely entertain?
To which I say: there’s entertaining, and there’s entertaining.
For me, what defines a book as ‘fluff’, and therefore ultimately no more than sheer entertainment, is lack of character development. Think it doesn’t happen? No? Really? I have two words for you – no, make that three: Bond. James Bond.
*regains straight face* Ahem.
Silly interludes aside, you get my point. There are stories where characters just don’t grow, and for me personally, while they might be fun, I’m unlikely to list them as Books Which Changed My Life.
Some of you out there might be content to write Books That Don’t; cool, fine, whatever.
I want to write books that Change Things: lives, sure, but even small things, like perceptions, attitudes, thoughts…
But here’s a thought: All writing is meaningful.
Let me say that again: All writing is meaningul.
How? Why? Because all writing has something of the author in it, some facet of their personality, some trivial note about their life – and people are meaningful. Lives are meaningful. And when we write, in some small way, we are talking about our life.
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m getting all autobiographical on you here, implying that in every book lurks the author’s own life story; that’s not what I mean at all. No. It’s more subtle than mere events. It relates to something else I like to harp on about: themes.
Because, you see, your themes are nothing more and nothing less than what is important to you. And what’s important to you is what makes it into your writing – or at least it should be. If you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, maybe this is why – you don’t have enough of yourself in there, enough things that are important to you, that you can care about.
Therefore, it stands to reason that when you write – if you’re really writing, and not merely doing exercises with a pen on a page – that you inject yourself, and by injecting yourself, meaning into your work.
Ergo all writing has meaning.
Even the stuff I disparage as ‘fluff’.
What is my conclusion here? I’m not sure I have one. I do think it’s important to strive, to want to make the world a better place with my writing… But I’m not you. And if you prefer to strive to entertain – well, perhaps in some situations escapism is a noble goal in and of itself.
I guess what I’m saying, if you really want to twist the meaning out of it (haha), is that I’ll expand my horizons if you will. I’m willing to concede that all writing has meaning, even if it’s meant only to entertain. But I’m emphasising a point I’m made before: you can’t escape themes and meaning in your writing, simply because you want to entertain. We’re writers; we speak. We speak because we have something to say. And that, my friend, is wotcha call meaning ;)