Now to go from a somewhat charged controversial topic like I presented last Thursday to one that is perhaps even more controversial for many of the members of this particular blog community in which I lurk. It is based on an opinion that some people hold. I would not be considered to be one who holds this opinion for if I did then I would be living a contradiction. My question for this week is:
Is Fiction a frivolous escapist waste of time?
There have been periods of my life when I have read nothing but nonfiction. At times I will go on a stretch were I read nothing but biographies, histories, travel books, or anything that is real and gives me this sense that I am learning something. Perhaps I become fixated on my career or current events and binge on reading only things that pertain to whatever my current interest is. During these spans I smugly consider that my only quest should be for factual knowledge.
But some would argue that reading fiction is just a time-waster. Okay, I will concede that there might be some fiction that is a waste of my time, but the way I see it is if I had a good time reading something did I waste my time? If I go to Disneyland and have a good time is that a waste of time? If I spend a few hours playing golf is that a waste of time? If I lie on the beach and do nothing is that a waste of time? I think you get my point here: If I'm enjoying myself and recharging my body, mind, and soul, then I don't think I'm wasting my time.
Learning is certainly commendable. I like to know a lot of facts in order to have interesting conversations and to be able to understand the world around me better. Reading nonfiction is important. The advocates of nonfiction only might argue that in order to be in tune with events and the state of one's own being, reality writing is the only type of literature that can bring about true understanding and change.
The human mind works on many levels and dealing only with facts and figures might possibly be a hindrance to thinking with imagination. Fiction sometimes can illlustrate real life situations with greater clarity than journalistic re-enactments of actual events. We can recall how Jesus used parables in order to convey his teachings. Poets and playwrights like Dante and Shakespeare took literature as art to levels of immortality to the extent that even today we can derive sublime messages from their works that non-fiction could probably never achieve.
I enjoy well written nonfiction, though when it is too dry, technical, or pompous the writing can really turn me off. But when it is written in an entertaining or engaging manner nonfiction certainly captivates as well as fiction. And as for fiction, there is an important place in many readers lives for escapist literature. Seeing as how I'm interested in writing fiction, it is certainly to my benefit to have lots of fiction readers out there.
I know that a great many of you are totally pro fiction and feel like I feel about it. Do you ever feel like you're just frivously passing time with fiction writing? Would you prefer to be writing nonfiction? And any of you who do fall into the fiction-is-a-waste-of-time camp, please defend your reasoning on that stance.