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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Being a Better Person

One question lead to a beautiful post, Tanya J Peterson explains…

While frolicking around Facebook recently, I found a contest, hosted by HarperCollins Canada, in which entrants were asked to state why they love reading.  The question gave me pause.  Of course I love reading, and by extension, writing stories that people (hopefully) love reading.  But until now, I have never fully analyzed why I love reading and why I love writing. 

For me, and as I suspect for many, the answers are numerous and varied.  As I pondered some of them (an enjoyable pastime, a means of brief and safe escape, an alternative to television, an intellectual pursuit, an excuse to cozy up with a blanket and tea…), I wasn’t quite satisfied.  While all of my reasons for loving reading (and writing) were accurate, none was fully “it.”  So I continued to muse. 

The ah-ha moment struck me as I was writing part of my upcoming novel.  I read and I write because I want to be a better person.

Sure, novels are fiction.  Storylines, while often incredibly realistic, are fabricated.  Characters, while they are all-too-human, are make believe.  Yet they—the story’s plot and characters—are microcosms of life.  That’s why they can have poignant themes and why they can make us laugh and cry.  And that’s why they inspire me to be a better person.
When I was writing Leave of Absence, I found myself repeatedly feeling strongly about what type of person I want to be.  I want to be the wife that a husband would miss, the friend who sees the person rather than the mental illness.  And in writing My Life in a Nutshell (the working title of the novel to be released in 2014), I also found myself wanting to be a better person, to be someone who jumps far beyond his comfort zone in order to help a hurting child, to be a person who embraces life because she’s driven by joy and compassion. 

Novels are more than entertainment.  For me, they’re life guides.  When I find myself reflecting on what I do in a given plot conflict, sometimes I discover that what I, the real-life me, would do is different than what a character does.  Frequently, I find that I like the character’s attitude and behavior better than my own.  When that happens, I make some decisions about myself.  And hopefully, through the acts of reading novels and writing them, I’m becoming a better person. 

Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
novelist, mental health writer, & speaker 


  1. I've never thought of it like that, but it makes sense. Go for it...get better!

    1. I think it must be the counselor in me, always seeking growth!