Fiction Opens Hearts and Minds

Let me tell you a story...

Let me paint you a whole new world to immerse yourself in for just a little while. A world where justice prevails and conflict is resolved. A world where people live happily ever after.

We know these stories aren't real, but they allow us to immerse ourselves in dreams of the world we wish we lived in. They also allow us to experience things we will never experience in real life.

I discovered the power of fiction as a child, and fell in love with the stories that changed my life. Fiction gave me the opportunity to envision a future beyond the farm where I grew up. Fiction showed me a world beyond the small farming community where I never quite felt like I fit in. Fiction even gave me my first glimpse into cultures and people across time and space.

I devoured the stories I read. Looking back I realize I was searching for my place in the world. I was searching for a place where I would fit in because I never felt like I really fit in anywhere. I searched for a connection to people who had been described to me as the "enemy". I wanted to know those people. I wanted to understand why they were my enemy beyond some adult telling me they were. So I read stories set in places all around the world.

I read stories about women who controlled their own lives and who overcame great obstacles. I read stories about women who were rescued by one Prince Charming or another never seeing their own power and felt discomfited by them. I read stories about faraway places where people lived differently than me and who spoke different languages. I read and I read and I read some more. And I wrote. I wrote my stories about lives that I imagined for myself and for other people.

I discovered an insatiable thirst for wanting to understand the why of human nature. This lead me to study Psychology as well as criminality and juvenile delinquency. And still I read. I read romances but cared more about the lives of the main character than the romance. In fact, I often skimmed over the romantic sections of such books with a "yeah, yeah, yeah." like it was something that had to be there but didn't pertain to my life.

I started to identify with people who had nothing in common with me, at least on the surface.

This is the power of fiction. Fiction has the power to cast us in starring roles in other people's stories as we read them. We find we can connect with their stories, empathize with their plight, and understand their decisions. Fiction has a way of conveying information to us that debunks misconceptions without feeling threatening.

Fiction can help us dream a little bigger. Fiction can help us reach a little farther. Fiction can help us
embrace a little stronger. Fiction can help us let go a little easier.

Fiction holds within it the power to change how we interact with the world and therefore to change the world itself.

Fiction opens our hearts and minds to the experiences of other people in ways that can help us understand the humanity that binds us all.

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