I don’t wear makeup. That simple fact will save me, according to a 2010 survey, $13,000 over my lifetime.
Of course that makes me feel virtuous, as if I am not wasting time or money on something superficial and largely superfluous. But recently I’ve had some stabs of guilt over my chosen avocation—fiction writing—which will eventually, I hope, become my vocation.
Is fiction superfluous?
Especially now, when the down-and-out are finding their voices and occupying Wall Street, when my good friend Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez devotes herself to teaching and to waking up the world through her blog, Transition Times… isn’t it just a bit self-indulgent for me to spend hours each day pondering the lives and fates of people exist only between my ears?
Here’s the argument for why I believe, deep down, that fiction is neither superfluous or self-indulgent.
While I am not about to elevate myself to the height of such literary lions as Charles Dickens, Upton Sinclair, Harriet Beecher Stowe, or Margaret Atwood, there is no doubt that works of fiction can change the world. And becoming a well-known author gives you a platform for discussing issues that you might otherwise never be able to bring up. Just look one of my favorite authors, T.C. Boyle, and his books such as The Tortilla Curtain (illegal immigration) and When the Killing’s Done (the environmental).
It’s not always necessary to take our social and personal reform as dry, academic medicine. Sometimes we can take it in the form of a juicy, well-told story, and that’s what I’m aiming for with my writing.
In the meantime, I can take the $13,000 I didn’t give to the cosmetics industry and donate it to a worthy cause.