I’m an optimist. Unashamedly so. My best friend is a pessimist, with perhaps a slight tinge of optimism which barely shines through now and then. When we first met, he accused me of being unrealistic. An optimist just can’t look the real world in the eye. That gave me food for thought. Is an optimist’s favourite pastime that of burying her/his head in the sand? Or does an optimist face up to the reality of the world and conclude there is a good future ahead? And what does all this have to do with writing?
In my writing I try to represent the world as it really is. I’d like to think that goes without saying. It seems not. When former colleagues read my stories, I often get one of two reactions. Either they think I err too far to the side of good, because humanity is far more depraved than I ever portray it in my writings. Or, and this happens less often, I’m accused of painting the dark side of a world which, if it exists, certainly should not be portrayed in anything considered to be uplifting like art. Wickedness may be out there, it probably is out there. But please don’t remind us about this.
To be honest, I’m not really one to dwell on the dark and seedy. The fact that some people react like this probably shows more about them than about me. But what I do focus on is change. This part and parcel of my Christian worldview. I believe in the power of redemption, forgiveness and change. When I look into the world, I see the dark. But I also see the light and I believe this light is strong enough to bring change into anyone’s lives. A number of my favourite novels reflect this.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch stands up against the bigotry and racism he sees around him. His humanity shines through as it confronts the darkness around him, bringing hope that one day society itself will change as people’s attitudes are changed.
In No And Me, Parisian teenager Lou meets No, a homeless person living in the streets. Her parents take No in and thus begins a new life full of struggles. But throughout Lou never gives up on No and in turn No herself becomes a catalyst for change in Lou’s family forcing them to face up to a long suppressed tragedy.
And in my own story, Discovery, Elizabeth is confronted by the reality of the misery her company (and by implication she, herself) is causing to a society starved of hope and willing to clutch at any straw. The resulting crisis leads her to turn her back on her cushy office job as she faces an uncertain future.
What other examples can you come up with?