The world is a pretty messed up place. It seems like everywhere you look, things are just not working out. People are arguing and fighting with each other. Politics is a big and utter mess. Nobody seems to have the faintest idea how to solve big issues like global warming or racism or inequality.
Then again, maybe it’s always been like this. If you spend any time studying history, you will notice that conflict and disagreement is nothing new, and most people have had a pretty rotten time most of the time. Sure, occasionally there have been little windows where little groups have had it pretty good, but that’s largely been the exception rather than the rule.
This is all quite difficult for me because I’m a problem solver (I know I am because years ago I did one of those workplace assessments which tell you what your personality or working style is – and we all know how reliable they are – and it definitely told me that I’m a problem solver). When I look at myself, and what I like to do, whether at work or at play, I can see the truth in that. A large part of my working life revolves around problem solving, and for fun I love to do crossword puzzles and Sudokus.
And, of course, my favourite recreational activity is writing stories. What better occupation could there be for a problem solver. After all, what is a story but a problem that needs to be solved. Obviously, this can refer to the protagonist attempting to solve problems in order to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. But it also applies at the writing level. As a writer, in order to set up problems for the characters, I usually end up setting up problems for myself. And a good part of the writing process is attempting to solve those problems. Sometimes I’m barely one step ahead of my characters.
Which leaves me with a big frustration. As a problem solver, I want nothing more than to solve every problem I’m confronted with. But, as I mentioned above, the problems of the world are so big and complex. Many minds greater than mine have tried to solve them and yet they still remain. What chance have I got. It leaves me more than a little annoyed.
Luckily, I have found an answer. I have my stories. They’re the place where I can solve those problems. They’re the place where I can have my happy endings, and I can make the world work out. It’s a small thing, I know. But it helps me survive in this big and complex world without going insane. And if they can help anyone else out there, then that’s even better.
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