Writing All Wrongs

quill pen and parchmentDoes the writer have an obligation to Write the Wrongs they see?  The muckrakers certainly righted several wrongs with their books.  One famous legend has President Teddy Roosevelt choking on his morning sausage after reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle,  about the  Chicago stockyards and slaughterhouses.  It resulted in the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

Rachel Carson was another writer who changed things.  Her Silent Spring, written in 1962, documented the effect of the indiscriminate use of pesticides upon the environment.  It lead to the ban of DDT and the restoration of many species such as the California Condor.

Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist, highlighted the mountain gorillas of Africa.  The book was made into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver.  Earlier this month, one of the news channels talked about the gorillas making a comeback and being moved from critically endangered to endangered.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a strong impetus to the Abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War. According to legend, Lincoln tells her, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

Why do you write?  Is it to entertain, to inform, to instruct?  Is it a case of Have Writing Implement (physical or virtual) and must write?  Do you want your writing to serve a higher purpose or is just having anyone read it for any purpose sufficient?   Does anyone have to even read it or do you just need to write it?

scale of justice

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17 thoughts on “Writing All Wrongs”

  1. That’s a loaded paragraph! I’ve written a few stories meant just to entertain; but, overall, I think that I write as a way of working through things from my own life. If readers can be entertained or informed, then that’s a good thing! I read something the other day by Sue Monk Kidd (author of “The Secret Life of Bees”), who said that many authors first need to work through personal stuff in memoir and can then write fiction with only glimpses of themselves and their lives interjected into the stories now and then.

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    1. Interesting paraphrase from Sue Monk Kidd. I had never thought about it that deeply. Thanks for sharing it with us and taking the time to comment. I usually write to entertain. I love wordplay and sometimes use that riff to write a more thought-provoking short essay.

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  2. I sometimes think I should write about ‘big’ issues and worry that because I don’t, my writing has no value, but then I try to remember that it’s just as important to entertain or offer some form of escapism, or to write about ‘small’ things that everyone can relate to.

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  3. I wrote my first novel just to see if I could. It was such a great experience I couldn’t stop, so I wrote a few more. Now I feel I have to keep writing because to stop would be giving up. I’m not sure how sustainable that is. My original reason for writing a blog was to let the world know about my books, but now it’s to make and maintain connections, mostly with other writers. I’ve discovered so many interesting, clever, and inspiring bloggers.

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    1. Good for you for writing a novel. That is my goal but I have yet to find the topic I want to spend more than a chapter or two with. I may do better with some of my children’s stories. I agree I have met many wonderful and inspiring bloggers in the past two years. It’s funny how people you have never physically met can seem like really good friends.

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  4. Excellent topic! The beauty of writing is that we can do both: entertain and inform. What better way to expose people to different points of view than through a well told story? Reading and writing are enlightening. Every story that makes it into a reader’s hands has the power to effect change, whether through a simple smile on an otherwise bad day or evoking thoughts on deeper topics. Our words impact readers in so many ways, and making that impact is the greatest joy writing brings to me.

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  5. I’ve worked in the humane field for over 30 years – fundraiser, newsletter writer, web writer – so some of my writing is definitely to enlighten, inform, and hopefully, change some minds in a positive direction. But I also write for children, and there I write more about the magical role animals play in our lives and how they inspire us. For my stilladreamer blog? I write about whatever I feel like!
    Jeanne

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