I know from many published books that writing has an effect on the world. Just last week I got a letter from a reader of my first novel, Qualities of Light. She lives in Switzerland and took months to read and study the book (in English, not her native language), and she says she was transformed by the story. Since the novel was released in 2009, that's a fairly long half-life in publishing. Still touching a few people here and there, and I'm grateful my words can make a difference.
This week, I'm in Tucson, Arizona, in the middle of the beautiful and peaceful desert, with a group of 13 other writers. I'm teaching a retreat on book-writing, and the writers come from all different backgrounds and writing genres. Some are just beginning, some are nearing publication.
Over dinner, we often discuss the state of the world. Yesterday, we expanded that into the effect our writing might have on that world. Writer Toni Morrison is recently famous for saying, "This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That's how civilizations heal."
So what is your intent, with your writing, in this world we're in?
Your weekly writing exercise is a break from craft, into the purpose of why you write, why we write. What's it all about, for you?