Peggy Bechko: Writers Making Life Interesting

by Peggy Bechko

We hope.

“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
John Updike

Do you agree with John Updike? Have we truly gone past the age of heroes and hero kings (using it as a metaphor, not taken as literal)? Are we no longer creating mythology, but rather just looking back at it?

I’d say mostly. Oh, yes, there are always exceptions. Individual heroes, petty wars, the occasional removal of nose from electronic device to look around, dig deep and pull that hero to the fore. But, for the most part our world has changed mightily (and mostly for the better) from the days of kings, crusades and Gilgamesh. Nonetheless I think we all miss the romanticized idea of it all.

So I find agreement with John Updike’s extrapolation that it’s up to the writer to find ways to make lives interesting.

Yo! Writers out there, that’s you.

We continue the tradition of great tales started oh so long ago with those passing of tales verbally from person to person…until now, yes, we have streaming movies, 3-D and Ebooks. Don’t look now, but even your phone is about to take a leap into presenting you ‘perspective’ (check out the concept of the new Amazon Fire phone.

The old saying that every story has been told is another hurdle for us writers. It’s true, they pretty much have, over and over and over again, but then that makes it our job to come up with new angles, new twists, new ways of looking at and presenting stories that banish the mundane and dull and keep audiences, whether reading or raptly watching, engaged.

Do I have a magic wand to tell you how to do this? No. Thus should end this entire discussion, but nope, it doesn’t.

John Updike was a prolific and excellent writer with two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction and his own place on IMDB, and he passed the task of making lives interesting to all writers who come after.

So we’re here, slaving over keyboards, stretching our minds to encompass the new, evolving science, the changes in society, coming up with new ideas on a daily basis to fill the need. Considering how involved the ‘writer’ is in nearly every aspect of daily life in addition to ‘entertainment’ such as writing articles, advertisements, instruction pamphlets, how to books; and on and on I believe writers are holding up their end of the bargain pretty well.

I’m the entertainment type of writer myself, but then again in today’s world it seems most every kind of writing is ‘entertainment’. The news shure has seemed to go down that path – if it’s not explosive it doesn’t get air time. Advertisements don’t just tout the wonderful aspects of a product any more, they have to be eye-catching and entertaining as well. How-to’s? It better be engaging or you won’t be selling many books. Thus the “Complete Idiot Guides”.

How about you, fellow writer, are you stepping up, banishing the mundane and the dull? Are you with John? I’d like to hear your thoughts.