Writing for a purpose

Posted: February 4, 2017 in Writing
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My newest story, Darwin’s Selection, Volume 1: A Whole New World, was published on Tuesday this week. As I often do, I ended up reading back through a lot of it. I oftentimes forget things once I write them down. I read through an interaction that I had almost forgotten about. First, a little bit of background so that you can understand. The main character and narrator, Darwin, has just started her freshman year of college. She has made friends with a young man named Clive. Several odd, almost supernatural things happen to her and Clive either witnesses or takes part in some of the events. After a particularly frightening attack by a basketball-sized tick (I shudder every time I think about that!), Clive and Darwin are trying to calm down on a bench when Clive starts rocking back and forth and humming to himself. Darwin comments about that being an unusual habit. Here is the exchange that follows:

“It’s more than just a habit. It’s a coping mechanism. I used to do it all the time in school, but I spent this summer trying to teach myself to stop so that people wouldn’t ask me too many questions.”
“What kind of questions?” I can’t believe the first thing I did was ask him a question. Curiosity can really make you do stupid things.
“Questions about me. I’m an Aspy.” I couldn’t keep the confusion off of my face. Was that some kind of local insult? I made a gesture for him to continue, but he didn’t. I cleared my throat, but he just sat there. Finally, I asked him directly what an Aspy was. “Oh, it means that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. You know, autism.” He said this with some annoyance in his voice, like he hadn’t wanted to say anything about it.
The wheels in my head started turning and I started to notice a few other things. “Is that why you hardly ever look directly at me when you talk to me?” He nodded. “Thank goodness!” My reaction made him look up in surprise. “I thought that I might have spinach in my teeth or something and you didn’t want to see it.”
Clive laughed, but he sobered again pretty quickly. “That’s another of the manifestations. I’ve worked hard to get past it, too. I guess being so stressed with the first days of school made it all come back.” He kicked at the ground with the toe of his shoe again. “People just treat me differently when they know.”
I put my arm around Clive’s shoulders. “I get bit by a giant dog that others can’t see and attacked by a monster-tick. If you don’t change how you treat me then I won’t change how I treat you.” Clive didn’t speak, but he stopped kicking at the ground. I took that as agreement.

From Darwin’s Selection, Volume 1: A Whole New World

As writers, we can try to promote ideas or positions that we find important to us. That is what I realized I was doing with this passage and a few others in later volumes. If there is something near and dear to you, you have the opportunity to promote your concern in a way that might reach your readers even if they don’t realize it. Your concern doesn’t have to be the main conflict of your story. Oftentimes, a more subtle approach yields greater benefits. In this case, I have found that it can be a challenge for individuals with high-functioning autism to be accepted for who they are by society. You see with the interactions between Darwin and Clive that individuals can embrace the unique personalities of those around them and not expect them to conform.

Everyone has something that they truly want to say. Sometimes the only way to say it is by shouting it from the rooftops. Sometimes, the subtle silence of the written word can plant the seed into your readers thoughts. I have heard it said that an author must write with purpose. Occasionally, though, I think it is good to write for a purpose.

 

Feature image courtesy of MedicalNewsToday.com

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