Guest Post: K.J. Steele, author of No Story to Tell

Today, I’ve got a really interesting guest post from K.J. Steele, author of No Story to Tell. In it, a chance meeting shakes up Victoria Lackey’s life. I asked KJ a question I love to ask: What has writing fiction taught you about reality? There are so many ways an author could attack that question and I was really interested in seeing what KJ decided to tell us…

What has writing fiction taught you about reality?

Writing fiction has been a wonderful teacher in terms of candidly reflecting reality back to me. And, like most teaching, not all of the lessons have been easily learned, or appreciated as I went through them. They have, however, proven to be invaluable guideposts for me as I traverse through life.

As I progressed deeper into my journey of writing, I became increasingly aware of the societal importance of good books. Fiction, in essence, is an attempt to interpret reality for us. In my writing, I am introduced to all sorts of interesting, and conflicted characters. And what they have taught me, as I delve ever deeper into the whys behind the whats of their antics, is that all of them are composed of a diverse complexity of emotions. None of them are truly all bad, or all good. They struggle with their insecurities–their pride, their hopes, and their dreams–just like the rest of us who live not on the page, but in the flesh of reality. 

In an interesting twist of the words writing the author, I was changed by this discovery. I now look beneath the surface of people’s, sometimes unpleasant interchanges, to acknowledge the pain, fear, or suppressed dreams that are hidden there. It is said that we build walls around weaknesses, not strengths. I so often find this to be true when I take the time to not react to the outward behavior of someone, but look deeper to find out who they really are. Writing my characters into life taught me this. And I have become far more compassionate as a result of it.

Writing fiction has also taught me that often, if not always, our reality is a product of our choices. It sometimes distressed me to find my characters in my novel, No Story to Tell, saying things, or walking into situations that could only result in undesirable consequences. And yet, away they would go, seemingly oblivious to the obvious chaos they were going to create in their lives. I, as the humble scribe,  was merely left to record their choices, and shake my head at their lack of fore-thought. And, inevitably, the results of those choices would emerge a few chapters later, and another dilemma would have to be overcome, or another situation surmounted. Which of course makes very entertaining fiction, but leads to a great deal of tumult in real life.

However, it became quite clear to me, that this is exactly what we do every day of our lives. We make choices. Sometimes they are good ones, made on the back of wise thinking and fore-site. Sometimes, they are not. And, either way, we will be the ones who have to live out the consequences of those decisions. Protected by the emotional distance fiction provides us with, it is very easy to see these patterns emerging in the character’s lives. And, by viewing them there, we can comfortably begin to recognize them within ourselves.

The gift writing fiction has given me, is this ability to comfortably recognize the self-limiting patterns that are so easy to create in one’s own life. As I watch the lives of my characters unfold, and careen through the consequences  of their decisions with them, I am continually reminded that we really do have the power to create our own lives. Our decisions and choices of each day are the stones which will pave the path of our lives only now a few chapters away. Writing fiction, it seems, is a great way to learn about reality.

K.J. Steele, November 2011

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