When I was considering a thesis topic as part of my Masters degree I had the following conversation with my then boss:
“What would you do it on?” she asked.
“Female relationships in fairy tales,” said I.
“What do you hope to get out of that…”
I paused to think…
She clarified, “As a practical person, I find it hard to understand how someone could put so much time and energy into something that doesn’t add anything to the world.”
Ok, fine, I didn’t bitch slap my boss, but boy did I want to. What an outrageous thing to say to someone. Once my burning rage had subsided however, I did consider what she’d said.
Did what my writing, academic or otherwise, add anything to the world?
Yes. Of course it did. I knew in my gut writing was valuable. I actually think the ability to express one’s ideas is one of the most valuable tools a person can possess.
Creation is power, change is power. Creation and change are two things writing can accomplish. In fiction we create worlds and people and events. These creations offer safe harbour and escape to many who need it. I know my father an many others have turned to books to get through difficult times in their real lives.
Stories and academic, in fact all, writing explores and challenges ideas. The most important thing it ‘adds’ to the world is ideas. Ideas spark change. Even if it’s just a change in a persons mindset. Even if that person is just the writer. To open a once closed mind, is beautiful. And even if they disagree, they have at least become aware of an alternate point of view.
That’s what writing adds, and a whole lot more.