Function

Lately I’ve been pondering about what a person does with their lives.

Okay, really I’ve been binging on old episodes of House, MD and wondering what it would be like to be a doctor.

Often when I watch shows or read books, I find myself wishing I was part of that world. Would I be a good doctor? Would that give my life more purpose?

Of course, that’s ridiculous.

But it does make me think what the heck I have been doing with my life. And what is a writer’s function other than providing doses of the three essential E’s: Entertainment, Enlightenment and Escape?

I often daydream—being the pessimistic writer that I am—of what would happen if the world were to end and I lived in a post-apocalyptic world. How could I help? How would I survive? I doubt anyone would care that am a professional daydreamer.

A doctor could care for the injured. Mechanics and engineers can fix machines that provide food, clean water, electricity and other essentials for human life. Farmers can grow food. Builders build. Scientists can…do scientific things that I’m sure will help get our world back in shape. Even politicians and leaders…well maybe the few good ones anyways…can maintain social order.

But what about writers? And artists? What can they do to fix a broken world?

What is a writer’s purpose?

I’m sure there are writers who have changed lives. Who educate. Who have helped and healed.

I know for a fact, I’m not one of them and I don’t know if I ever will be. I write fantasy stories.

True, I can write about love and friendship and loss and healing and that may console a person. But more often than not, I feel more useful when I’m taking orders at my part-time job at a fast food joint.

Wow that awfully negative. Let’s switch gears, shall we?

The world hasn’t ended yet. And there are still people living in abundance with too much time on their hands, where people crave entertainment as much as food and water, sometimes even more so. And while this dysfunction continues, if it is, I still can create my little worlds and my little characters guilt-free with the knowledge that I still have a function in this world.

However, I still feel this is a question that should be carefully considered and pondered.

So I leave it up to the readers.

What is a writer’s function and does it have meaning?

I’ll go even further and ask…

What is the function of a human being?

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6 thoughts on “Function

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  1. There have always been stories, and cave paintings in France are evidence that there have always been chronicles and artwork of some kind. You mention dysfunction, which I think is the key. Storytelling is a way of creating order in a seemingly random and meaningless world, right? I know personally that without writing and reading the dysfunction of the world would probably grind me down to a pulp, but the order that art and literature provide helps prop everything up again.

    Or think of it this way: In a post-apocalyptic world, what could we hope to do without our stories to sustain and unite us?

    1. This is a very good point. Also, writing may wake us up to the fact we’re heading towards an apocalyptic scenario and might prevent or at least prepare for it.

  2. @ Lura Slowinski

    Well said.

    and to throw in my two cents: we writers are the voice of our generation, like all the greats before us. I think that’s a pretty important function 🙂

  3. The three E’s: Entertainment, Enlightenment, and Escape. I like that. That’s a cool way to think about writing.

    In my opinion, the function of a writer is the same as the function of a human being: to create and defend beauty in all its forms. A well-written book is a thing of beauty. So is a human life. That’s not to say they have the same value, of course. But I think in some sense doctors and authors are working toward the same universal goal.

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