After reading about artists ‘making it’ and becoming rich and famous it – fame and fortune – seems like something to pursue. But what’s the end game there? I’m not so sure. I’ve read a lot of self help books that help you improve your life, yet very few on how to build a legacy or to make an impact on the world.
Impacting the world is probably aiming high. But as artist J. Cole said, “If you ain’t aim to high then you aim too low.” Meaning, if you don’t try for the most possible then you’re not really trying at all. The sentiment is echoed in Nike’s recent campaign when they say: “Don’t try to be the fastest runner in your school or the fastest in the world, be the fastest ever.”
Now anyone that knows me knows that I think that’s cheesy as hell but, and this has always been my outlook on life, doing something to the highest level should be the standard; that’s (at least in my opinion) the American way. “Highest level” is a term I first heard from the movie The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman. In the film, Wahlberg gambles and gambles until he goes broke. I found myself thinking “walk the f– away you just won hundreds of thousands of dollars!” But later I realized that was his whole ethic: go until you can’t go anymore; reach for the stars, and touch one or die trying.
That’s exactly how I’m approaching writing fiction. I don’t just want to make a living, be a good marketer, create funnels and get people with clever “call to actions,” although that stuff is important. To me it’s more about – has always been about – making a difference. Lofty, cliché, corny, sure, but luckily for me I’ve never really given much thought to what others think. Writing to me isn’t just about turning a phrase, fluid prose or books sales. It’s about sending a message that can be better understood through fiction.
There are too many voices on social media, in the news, on TV, and in the movies that have more nonfiction than you can handle. Every week they go back and forth about how right they are and how wrong someone else is. Facts are narrated to fit a frame or completely false only to be corrected after the damage is done. Many people disregard even truthful voices because there are so many lying that it’s hard to choose which is which. But fiction is different. Fiction starts with the foundation of “this isn’t real.” And for some reason readers feel more truth coming from it than anything they read in the news.
That isn’t to say that nonfiction is worthless. Memoirs, biographies, documentaries – all are worth the read or watch. I wouldn’t have a message to send if I didn’t pay attention to the world. And unless you pay attention to the world you probably won’t appreciate my fiction. But my goal is to communicate to the reader on a level that nonfiction just doesn’t reach. That’s my aim anyways. Ayn Rand (one of my favorites, you’ll notice) didn’t just kick ass at writing fiction but also at conveying a message through storytelling so real and profound that her books still sell thousands of copies a year. I want to get to that level, I want to leave a legacy that will shape minds for generations. I always talked like this to my fellow master’s pupils and it’s just who I am. Love it or leave it that’s how I feel about writing; it’s more powerful than the sword so to speak.
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