The Writer’s Purpose in Community

“We write in service of the truth”

Laura McCullough is the one I remember as saying these words. It may have been a quote, but that’s not important. What’s important is that I didn’t understand when she said it.

I didn’t understand later when I wrote a poem on capital punishment or a story on homelessness in Columbia, SC. I didn’t understand it years later when I finished my writing degree. I’m sure I don’t fully understand it now. But I’m getting there.

I finally caught a small understanding a few weeks ago. I thought about my writing and what I want it to accomplish. I thought about the news. About the deep trenches on either side of every issue even in my own city.

Politics is politics, then, now, I’m not changing that. But there must be a way to articulate a common humanness at least for my community? Wouldn’t building common ground be better than building impregnable barricades around ideologies?

But how? is a million-dollar question.

Then, I thought about art. Specifically, the art of writing as an expression of culture in turmoil. It’s historic ability to communicate without ostracizing. To take a point-of-view, that cannot be spoken outright and put it in story form. Weaving humanity together into a common and relatable form. Not as rhetoric, not intending to persuade, but to express before the reader.

In this way, art can get people to listen when nothing else can.

I think about creative writing everywhere and it’s place in culture as an agent for truth. In this light, “We write in service of the truth,” is a statement that fundamentally changes the reason we write. It gives us purpose, far removed from our instruments.

As agents, we’re more than writers, we’re mediators who make some sense of  humanity and present it to our community.

Anyway, it’s a thought-in-progress. Feel free to take it the way you want and give me your thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “The Writer’s Purpose in Community

  1. Jared! I didn’t know you were a writer. You probably don’t remember me, but it’s Caleb Rechten, from Calvary Chapel Old Bridge.

    This is certainly half of the reason I love fiction/writing so much. A decent amount of the stories I’ve thought of are a result of the desire to share some sort of truth (maybe not a lesson, but a truth, certainly). The other half is just ‘oh, this IS a fun idea, isn’t it!’.

    (I took Creative Writing with Laura. She’s been a great and positive influence on me. Also how I found your post/blog.)

  2. Wow! Thanks for the comment, Caleb.

    Yeah, I love the idea of communicating with a purpose. It really pushes the boundaries of my writing to be a vehicle that is useful as well as enjoyable.

    I think we can both attest to Laura’s contagious love for the process and purpose of writing. Keep doing it!

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