Letters of Questioning: Flying a New Flag


Sailing these waters may be mighty dangerous, after last week’s look at plotting and how we get there, we have sailed on to murkier waters yet.  Taking a closer look at the Writer’s Role…  and without further adieu, here is the latest installment:


Dearest Dreamland’s Insurgents,

Of course the journey is never ending. There are of course periods of rest, reflection and learning, but then you move on and make changes. Don’t you know by now I am all about change?!? I thought my name said it all! Not to mention, what about you? Aren’t you all about upsetting status quo? Your name, like mine suggests stepping out of the norm. Not getting boxed in. Becoming a bit of a rebel!
Besides, is it not our job as writers to enlighten the world? As a writer we shape worlds. We affect the minds of others… even in something as simple as a fiction novel that is read for enjoyment. Honestly I think especially in fiction.
I was imminently inspired when I read The Writer’s Role in Society. It is suggested that writers are teachers, they have lessons to share and craft an entire work of art to do so. That writers offer something unique to them, something no one else can. The recreation of worlds.
I think that might just be the tip of the iceberg though! More than just lessons to share, we writers start new ideas. Inspire thoughts, and those cognitive responses move into actions. Like our very thoughts on a new idea in writing being that there are more than just plotters and pantsers, there two could be something new, revolutionary as evolutionists! Those who build upon what has come before!
So, my friend, I entreat you, what do you see when you look at the Writer’s role in society? Teacher, companion, friend, lover, anarchist, rebel… so much more, or maybe less?!? Or is it just a story shared? Are writer’s the rebels that can not be quelled? What say you?

Proudly flying my new pirate flag,


Dreamland’s reply:

Ahoy, Random,
Why, I would never dream of upsetting the status quo – why? Who have you been talking to? How much do they know?! *ahem* sorry… anyway….
If by “enlighten,” you mean “set fire,” then yes, I’m all for “enlightening” the world. (I kid, I kid … mostly.) The question of the writer’s position isn’t easy to answer, which is why I also enjoyed the Nicholas Conley’s post The Writer’s Role in Society. He emphasizes that writers are teachers, yet, but another line that spoke to me was this passage:

“The different fiction genres each demonstrate a unique facet of the writer’s society. A horror writer will memorialize the discomforts of his era. A science fiction writer will demonstrate that era’s views on technology. A literary writer, of course, will display what everyday life was really like.

By writing a novel, the writer acts to keep his/her era alive for future generations, so that our children and grandchildren can understand who we really were, and what we stood for.”

Archivist, teacher – and, arguably, mirror. No matter how revolutionary or original we fancy ourselves, we’re also the products of our environment, somehow. So maybe one of the tricks is to show what is familiar in a startling way, or make the unfamiliar accessible?
Lots of writers have been agents of change, for good or bad. We have to have some awareness but we also have to build and burn, or, as one of my favorite bloggers phrases it, “sort, sever, detangle, grasp.”
So my question for you is, what do we do now? As agents of change, as writers, as people comfortable with assuming roles as necessary, fighting where we stand, agitating for change… What do we target? What forms of rebellion do we take and tell? Where exactly should our stories go? Where are we needed most and what for and why?

All dressed up with nowhere to sail,
dreamland’s insurgents

Be sure to check out Nicholas Conley’s Writings, Readings and Coffee Addictions, he has some good stuff over there!



So… what is your figuring?  Do you have something to add to our letter?  Have either of us missed something?  What are your thoughts on a writer’s role in society?

Do you have some ideas that you would like to see discussed?  Feel free to drop them here as well!


15 thoughts on “Letters of Questioning: Flying a New Flag”

  1. I think it depends on the writer. All can be teachers, but not all can be rebels. There are your instructive scholars, your entertaining bards, and your comical jesters. My personal role (at least I think so) is that of the entertaining bard. My goal is to entertain and draw readers into my fantasy world. Pure escapism and if a reader learns something then that’s a bonus.

    1. I like to think I dabble in a bit of all worlds **grins** but then I am just an overachiever like that!
      The beauty and power of words make writers ever so important, at least… I think so.

      1. Everyone is a teacher, just as everyone is a student. That is just the way of life… And if we are not teaching, and we are not learning, then we are missing out!!!

      2. Can we say 95% of people are teachers? There are some people that I don’t want to learn from. Unless we’re counting teaching by being a bad example.

      3. well, if you have learned what not to do from someone, doesn’t that still make them a teacher? albeit, not one we should strive to live by… Hmm, methinks this might just need to be pontificated *grins*

      4. The sad truth… sometimes it would be nice if more people wanted to be a good example.
        Of course, not everyone can be as marvelous as us, right?!? *grins*

  2. Good question. I agree with Charles. Some may have a call to enlighten; others to persuade; still others to entertain or a combination of all three. Me? I write to enjoy myself. But I write primarily for kids. That’s probably my role in society: as someone who works to encourage (and safeguard) the imaginations of children.

    1. Oh I really agree, I write to enjoy myself. I write to get out the words that are pouring through my mind. To still my thoughts.
      Writing for kids is a GREAT thing!!! That genre is full of teachers. Because kids are actually pickier than adults when it comes to what they read, and because they want valuable reading, most of what is out there for kids teaches something on some level. (Of course I believe that about all books, even those people think are strictly entertainment.)

  3. I write because I must. It has become almost as essential as breathing to me. If a thought is provoked, if a rib is poked, if a memory is evoked, then I am stoked 🙂

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