Why Novels Matter – A Novel Matters Guest Post

We’re just so human. Try as we might to be otherwise, what with our Christmas newsletters and greener than green front yard lawns, we can’t escape our messy, confusing human state.

Hide, yes.

Escape, no.

Enter fiction where, for once in our ever-loving life, we’re allowed to pull back the thin veneer of straight teeth and gold stars at kindergarten, and look straight into the bubbling pot of messy humanity. Really have a good look. Poke around in there, sniff the dirty socks, and cry a little when the way the character breaks apart looks so much like the way we’ve broken apart.

You are broken.

There’s no way around this fact (even when, as parents we fool ourselves into thinking it won’t be that way for our children, that if we keep them whole long enough they will stay that way for life). Somewhere along the way life tossed you like a toy, and something about you broke.

Enter fiction where for once there is someone who is broken and lost and confused and getting it all wrong. Just like us—but just enough not like us that we can bear to look deeply and brush up against our ache. Really feel it, and accept it as part of our experience, part of what makes us who we are. Part of our personal crazy.

You are home to personal craziness.

There is a part of you no one understands—not even you. The fear that wakes you in the middle of the night and pushes you out of bed, down the hall, to check the child sleeping in the other room even though that child is grown and hasn’t slept in that bed for twenty years. The way rain makes you laugh, and how mowing the lawn reminds you of the six weeks you spent with your leg in a cast, and how you can’t remember your Grandmother’s maiden name and that makes you cry. And how you can’t explain any of it to anyone because it doesn’t make sense.

Enter fiction where we find characters that speak the language of our silence. Who ask the same questions our hearts have been wordlessly asking for years we just didn’t know it until we found the story that asked the questions.

Fiction is the story of you living a different life in order to be able to see yourself in a new way and make sense out of the life you are living.

You’re broken.

You’re hiding it.

And it’s making you crazy.

Fiction says, “Welcome home. ”

4 Responses to Why Novels Matter – A Novel Matters Guest Post

  1. Sharon Moore May 11, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Bonnie – So true! You expressed it well – the inner fears (especially about the forgetting) and how novels speak to us. I have found that fiction really ministers to me, and I enjoy connecting with the authors.
    A reader in MN,

  2. Ariel May 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like without stories. No imaginary people to root for or fall in love with or despise. Makes me think that we’ll never truly understand how much novels matter to our dusty lives.

  3. zibilee May 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Oh man, what a beautifully written and perfectly honest post. So many of us are hiding, or think we are hiding that brokenness, and it’s so true that reading fiction can tale you places inside yourself that no one else can see. It also helps you see other people’s hurts and wounds like nothing else. I have never read anything that expressed these sentiments so viscerally and openly. Amazing and powerful guest post today. It really was wonderful.

  4. Bonnie Grove May 12, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sharon: Thanks for your great comment! Fiction does reach that inexpressible place inside us. Thank heavens for fiction, and for those writers who continue to slug it out with story on our behalf.

    Ariel: Not in a way we can fully express. It seems each story meets a different need.

    Zibilee: Thank you so much. I love your point about how fiction fosters empathy in the reader. Excellent, and so true!

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