by Josh Beaumont
What is it about writing that captivates us? What is it about this simple act of affixing symbols onto a sheet of paper that moves our minds, hearts, and souls to imagine worlds and discover things and secrets about ourselves we would otherwise be unable to find? Since its onset thousands of years ago, writing has served as one of the greatest—if not, the greatest—form of communication the human race has had at its disposal. But what sets this form of communication apart from the rest?
Writing and story move and affect everyone in different ways. I want to give my perspective on why writing moves me, since mine is really the only perspective over which I have any real say.
First and foremost, writing has never failed to plunge me into another world; a world in which I could explore the depths of my imagination and my mind; a world in which anything is possible, and world in which worldly limits are cast aside. This has been the case since I was young (we’re talking five or six years old). Whenever I would read a book or write something for class—however small—the world the story offered would whisk me away and show me just how far imagination could go. As a young kid, it was an amazing experience seeing what the human mind was capable of, even if I didn’t realize why I was so captivated.
Second, writing moves me because of the way it can be used to show a greater story. There is a reason Jesus so frequently used parables when explaining the giant mysteries surrounding the Kingdom of Heaven. Small stories can do wonders in simplifying huge concepts that would otherwise be beyond our understanding.
I’ll use a particular example that has proven quite moving for me. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former convict who is shown mercy after stealing silver from a church. The priest, instead of sending him to prison as he rightly deserves, gives him his freedom under the condition of using the silver to become a man of integrity. This single act of grace turns the former prisoner’s life upside down, and that change impacts dozens of people around him.
Which would have been more effective? Someone could have easily preached a sermon about the changing power of grace, which, granted, would have driven home the point of how powerful grace can be, but this concrete example of grace and mercy in action leaves a lasting impact (which is why testimonies are so powerful as well). Story’s allegorical value cannot be overstated.
Those are the two greatest factors that move me as a writer. They have pushed me to improve my own writing to achieve the utmost in both fields, and they have given me a good compass to show whether my writing was staying its course. Writing moves me because of its potential to influence people’s imaginations and outlooks on life.