Why fiction matters





Paula’s Post #68 –  First off: my sincere apologies for missing last week’s blog post. While it is hard to explain to the uninitiated, sometimes life in the desert oasis known as Palm Springs can be overwhelmingly hectic.

I know, I know, I’m not complaining… really I’m not. But with half a dozen eager home buyers in town, all clamouring to see properties in a week that started off with the finals of the BNP Paribas Open and ended with the fierce international rivalry of the Canada vs. USA golf team challenge at my home club of Rancho La Quinta… whoa! I’ve been busy.

Happily though. Last week marked my very first ‘sale’ of a stunning desert property as an agent with Hom Sotheby’s International Realty.

So, my sincere apologies, but something had to give!

Happily, this week looks like an equally crazy one. After a few months in the ‘beta’ stage, my personal website just launched and ‘paulathird.com‘ is up and running. I’m really excited, because one of the important features of my new website is a ‘blog’ section where I’ll be posting updates and features of interest to my followers. Imagine my delight when i discovered the platform for this new blog is WordPress blog, the functionality not unlike the one we are using here at 5writers5novels5months.com

Already, I’ve decided to ‘rethink’ the usual kind of real estate blog. I don’t want to produce a weekly column full of market data and dry stats and info about economic trends. Instead, given my storytelling background and my experience with the 5writers blog, I’d like to use this new platform to inform my readers of what it is like to actually live here in the beautiful California desert, to spin stories that reflect the history, the culture and unique California Desert lifestyle. My challenge? To make it sound so delicious, everyone will want to be here!

So thank you 5writers blog for giving me build the skills and confidence over the last 5months to seamlessly transfer these blogging skills to my new platform. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll always be a ‘5writer’.

Which brings me to this week’s topic: “Why stories matter.”

I was driving to my office this morning with the car radio dial tuned to NPR. The Diane Rehm Show invariably seems to be on when I’m driving this particular idyllic stretch of Hwy 111, and I’ve become a fan of her insightful interview show. So I was of course delighted and intrigued to hear one of her scheduled features this week will be a discussion of ‘Why fiction matters.’

I just caught the promo for this feature as I pulled into my office parking lot, only to be horrified by the statement that a recent study reveals that less than half of all Americans are still reading novels today.


Seriously? What about Canadians?, my brain screams back. Surely the Brits must still read, even if they are responsible for having us all glued to the latest episode of ‘Downton Abbey‘?  After all, the Brits more or less ‘invented’ English Literature. Hell, they more or less invented English. More than half of them must still be reading novels.

I was comforted to hear that the news is not all bleak. Apparently the same study suggests that those who do read fiction are better able to understand the emotions of others. The show, scheduled for tomorrow, promises ‘…A conversation about the social and personal benefits of reading fiction.’

Fine. But as I walked into my office, focused on getting out this blog post before doing any actual ‘work-work’ I determined I would blog about ‘why fiction matters’.

I  mean, think about it. It’s obvious really. Simple math:

No readers = No books.

No books = No writers.

These are not happy equations. Not for a 5writer. Not for any writer.

A few taps on the keyboard, a few google searches and…. guess what? Someone already beat me to it!

So, for today’s post, (and not just to save time and energy reinventing the wheel) I commend to you the provocative: Why Fiction Matters, Maybe by literary novelist and fellow blogger David Biddle.

I hope you’ll read what he has to say, tune into Diane Rehn’s show, and hopefully take the time to tell me why, for you, fiction still matters.

Unfortunately, if you are reading this blog, I suspect you already fall into the ‘less than half’ group. Sigh. Maybe you can find someone on the dark side, someone who doesn’t read fiction, and ask them… why not?




4 thoughts on “Why fiction matters

  1. Paula I have to say I feel cheated. Why fiction matters is a great title and a terrific hook and a very deep and vital topic for readers and writers. I was looking forward to reading your opinions on the topic. But that’s not what I got. I got all the reasons you didn’t blog last week (which was over half the blog, btw) and then I get a pass off to an NPR show and someone else’s blog. It does save your time, that’s for sure. But mine? No. I’ve already spent my time coming here to get YOUR take on it.

    Writing your take on a topic others have expressed opinions on isn’t actually reinventing the wheel. As a writer of fiction you know that there are no new story ideas. But the approaches are unique, and that’s why we write our stories. Nobody but you can tell the story you have in mind, even if the idea has been used for thousands of years. So, why shouldn’t that apply to a non fiction topic close to the hearts of readers and writers everywhere, including, I assume (since you chose it as a topic) you?

    But I don’t get that – all I get is the link to someone else’s opinions and a request to come back here and tell you what I thought and why it matters to me. But if you can’t take the time to tell me what you think, if you don’t respect my time enough to give me what you promised, why should I take any more time to discuss the topic with you?

    If I want to read someone else’s opinion, I’ll go to their blog and read it. I come here for your takes on things. Sorry, but this is one very disappointed reader.

  2. Whoa! That was blistering, (and perhaps well-deserved) though I must admit I remain somewhat puzzled by your vehemence.

    All I can say was that when I flew out the door this morning and was driving down the highway listening to NPR, I felt I’d found a subject for this weeks blog post. A topic that would spark controversy and contribution amongst our blog readers and wider reading and writing community as a whole.

    Obviously, at least for you, it did.

    However unlike you, I did not automatically assume that it was my role, as the blogger du jour, to weigh in with my own thoughts first.

    Today. Right now. On the spot. Before the NPR program.

    For me, the internet as a whole is about finding information, not just opinion, and that apples to blogs, too.

    One of the things I had planned to do, and suggested to our followers as well (if you read the comment at the end of my post) was to be alert to the upcoming program schedule on NPR. To listen to the program, which I felt promised to be interesting. That is the ‘informational component’ I’d discovered and wished to ‘convey’ and share.

    II did not intend my post to be an ‘end’ but rather a beginning, with perhaps some give and take discourse. Clearly, you were expecting more from ME at the outset, and felt very disappointed and for that I apologize.

    I had fully intended to write a wee bit more on the topic of ‘why fiction matters’, but much to my dismay (half way through my research) I stumbled upon a fellow blogger’s post with almost the same content and, amazingly, a virtually identical title.

    So, at that point, I felt I had two choices, ‘scrap’ my topic for the day and start over, or share his blog with our readers, since I found it interesting and I was confident others would too.

    I’ve just re-read my post… and my comment above. I feel that all I have really done is ‘explain’ things, twice, so I doubt this comment will be much comfort to you. For that I apologize again, as you have been a loyal follower from the outset.


  3. Less than half of Americans still read novels? In my view, that’s another reason why our culture is declining. I suppose those “others” are replacing fictional books with TV series, online games, and other electronic recreation. I’m old school. I’d rather curl up with a good book—or do my best to write one. Maybe it’s good that I’m not necessarily interested in a big audience for my stories!

    Your new website sounds like an innovative approach to real estate, and I hope it takes off! Best wishes for that endeavor, although I hope you’ll keep going with the fiction, too! 🙂

    • Me too!

      I just wrote a comment on my fellow 5writer Joe’s post today, admitting I miss our 5novels5writers5months challenge.

      Seriously, if I had my way, we’d drop the flag again and shout ‘go’!

      I miss the adrenalin rush of ‘deadline’. Fortunately for me, my life is roughly divided into two concentric halves, my ‘winter’ half, spent in the desert, with lots of sunshine, but unfortunately less time to devote to writing, ( paradoxically, a time when all good Canadian writers are curled up, avoiding rain, sleet, snow, and blizzards, writing like mad).

      My summer season is the reverse… my time off, my time to relax a bit (last year excepted, when all I did was pack, house hunt, and move).

      I am very much looking forward to a delightful, productive summer of writing and reconnecting with my 5writer colleagues… I even know what story I’ll be working on next… just not before May! My hope is that more than one of the 5writers might just be crazy enough to snatch up the 5months gauntlet, again.

      Maybe this time, we should see if any of our followers would like to jump on the merry-go-round and join us on the ride? Sort of our own private NaNoWriMo.

      What do you think, are you game?

      Thanks for all your support and encouragement,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s