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[personal profile] elise_rasha
As many of you already know, for six months of my life I was homeless. I spent three months in Bremerton, Washington, and three months in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A lot of people told me that I could write about my experiences as a homeless woman.

It's an interesting idea, a concept I would definitely love to put into a fictional narrative.

At the same time, I wonder how much of an impact I could make by incorporating what I observed and experienced for myself. I question it because, well, it's the same narrative that Charles Dickens wrote about in many of his stories. He wrote about the plight of the poor in books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (the two stories of his that I've read). John Steinbeck wrote about what poor people went through during the Great Depression, that continual hunt for jobs that just weren't plentiful to go around (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath).

I wonder at my effectiveness when these books by Dickens and Steinbeck still exist. I worry about my effectiveness as a writer to write about these things when Dickens and Steinbeck have obviously failed at conveying the struggles of the poor and the homeless.

Or have they?

Yes, I do wonder at how effective I can be as a writer fictionalizing the very real things that the poor and the homeless endure. Yes, I smile and nod and say, I can do that when someone suggests to me that I should, that I can, and that I will probably have a hit on my hands. I have even thought of ways to incorporate my experiences into what I'm currently working on and ponder ways to write something that's somewhat autobiographical.

And I do get annoyed wehn someone wants me to help them write about their life stories and their triumphs simply because I am a writer, not realizing I do have my own projects to work on and when I feel like their life stories are not anything new, not anymore.

But most of all, I've come to realize that the problem isn't my effectiveness as a writer. It isn't that Dickens and Steinbeck have numbed people to those possibilities anymore.

It's that the majority of people have stopped caring to read. Period. I've been active on the internet rather regularly since 2000. That was the year I started publishing my Transformers fanfiction to a site called Lexicon.

Since then, I've come across a few memes that are horribly misspelled, talking about how only 2% of the population actually notices things like poor grammar and spelling errors. I'm sure many of my writer friends know the meme I'm talking about because it's the 2% of the population that we cater to when we write. It's discouraging to think that, as a writer, I will have a harder time convincing a non-reader to read than I will a person who actually loves to read. And it's the non-readers that we need to reach just as much as the readers.

Add into this people thinking rape scenes are simply hot sex moments between two characters, the clear fact that the majority of non-readers find reading boring, people mock other people for reading, and now we have a problem. The messages are getting lost in a mix of instant gratification and visual over-stimulation in movies and video games. Mind you, I love video games, and I love movies. I'm quite picky about what video games I'll play and movies I'll watch, but they can still reach a message to me.

So how do we overcome all of this? Books get turned into movies and video games quite a bit anymore, so that helps some, but how many remakes of A Christmas Carol do we really need? I'm going to go out on a limb and say as many as possible because people still are not getting that message. Stories have success when their themes are told and re-told.

I still have my doubts about how effective I'll be as a writer depicting a homeless person's situation, but the idea remains on the table.

In the meantime, I highly recommend for readers to get their hands on books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and similar stories. Push your boundaries. Read Harry Potter and Magnus Chase.

And may they all warm your heart.

Happy Holidays to everyone!
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