A writer puts into words a moment in time. What happened, what she paid attention to, what she felt about it.
And when she chose to write about it, she will have the perspective of that time and place.
It’s a time capsule. Books capture history.
Books are history. History is considered to have started with the development of writing. Before we wrote it down, it was pre-history.
But where does that leave fiction? Fiction didn’t happen.
Fiction isn’t true. It’s all imagination.
Fiction isn’t science–it’s art.
There is an art to imagining a story. The people and the circumstances coming together in a way that fascinates.
And there can be failures of imagination.
We all have blind spots. Looking back, I can see how I missed the obvious. I was convinced of a certain point of view, committed to it.
With perspective I see what I did not see then.
And I see the same in famous books. What was most precious to my ancestors in the past seems limiting now. As clear as cut crystal now that the assumptions were wrong.
When I read the stories that were treasured by my predecessors, I know what comes next. I know how this led to that and how the next thing happened.
My culture is a carpet behind, a littered path of pages. A scrapbook of memories.
Remember when? They are not my stories, but the group has told and retold the stories they are like my own. I remember the plot twists and turns.
A people’s literature is how we tell each other who we are, what we wish we could do and what we want to avoid.
Every day there is a new story, or another hundred. These old ones that we all know though have special significance.
That’s why studying literature is important. Even if it is painful. It is history even if it’s fiction. Our stories tell us who we are and who we want to be. Use your imagination.