As a writer who started life as a reader, I grew up alongside heroes. I devoured each Harry Potter as soon as it hit shelves, I journeyed through wardrobes and to Mordor. I saw ordinary people tasked with facing down tremendous, terrifying evil and not being sure how they were going to make it, but knowing they had to try. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I wanted to be like these characters. They handled things that I didn’t think I could handle, and they always made everything right in the end.
Then, I reached my adulthood years and things got a lot more complicated for me. I spent the time from when I was nineteen to twenty-three as homeless, a total of nearly five years overall. I stayed in shelters, mental wards, hopping from room to room found via craigslist, and at one dark point, spending several nights sleeping on public transit trains that ran all night. Through all of it, I tried to remember my favorite characters. Many of them were technically homeless, after all. Many of them went through the same struggles for food and a warm shower. Stories kept me strong through my darkest nights. I was always pushing myself to be a little more like my favorite characters and a little less like the fragile image I had of myself.
I’m not homeless anymore, but I’m seeing dark times around me again. I can honestly say that the news scares me on an almost daily basis by this point. I’m seeing fights around me almost everywhere I go, and I live in a fairly liberal city.
Now, I’m not someone with money, and I’m not someone comfortable in the crowds that come with rallies. But as I watch my friends protest and donate and give everything to making their message known, I’m sometimes stuck wondering “What can I do?” And that’s when I remember the characters that kept me alive through my homelessness.
I don’t say that lightly or as an exaggeration, either. These characters literally gave me a chance to step away from my life and be someone better and stronger. They helped me to know what was really important when it feels like the world is against you. They taught me that right is almost never easy.
This is why I write. Writing not only keeps me sane, but I know from firsthand experience that it can keep readers sane as well. Reading a good book can make you feel like you’re not alone, and show you what’s important in the world. It’s so easy when I’m not getting many reviews or sales to feel like I’m just putting my work out into a void where it doesn’t affect anyone or do anything. Maybe you’ve felt like that too, whether you’re published or not. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. Even small books can have a profound impact on a person. I can feel myself change and grow with every book I read, and it’s why I plan on reading until my dying day.
Your book is a chance to teach the world your truth, to show people what you see as worth fighting for. Right now, I think this is especially important, and with the advent of indie publishing, it’s amazing how we can now give the public the less popular, less conventional stories. We can dare to challenge the world with our stories and not have gatekeepers telling us “no” anymore.
I might not have money to donate, or feel comfortable at a protest, but I can give my words to this planet. I plan to not only write, but to write with the conscious intent to change the world. I hope you’ll join me.
This is the first of several blog posts I’m going to be writing about how to write for revolution. I’ll be talking about things like how to create diverse books, or how to have message with intent in your story. I don’t consider myself a master of all writing, but I do honestly and wholeheartedly believe that writing can change our world for the better. I’ll be posting these weekly on Saturdays (knock on wood)! If you have any subjects you would like to hear about, feel free to comment or email me and I would be happy to cover them in a future post. Thank you all for reading, and please, stay strong and take care of yourselves.