Thursday, January 31, 2019

How my Communication degree helps me with my writing.

I remember nearing the end of my mission in Europe and I was trying to decide what to study when I got home. I decided to go to the University of Arizona because they had a creative writing degree, but I wasn't sure I wanted to major in creative writing. I was single, no marriage prospects, and I worried I might have to support myself with my degree.

Creative writing wouldn't get me very far and it was a limited scope of study. Both of my mission presidents worked in communication. So I thought, okay, that sounds interesting. I like people. I like to talk. Let's do it.

I walked into my Comm 300 class and the professor said, "This is a class where we talk about relationships, how and why people get in them and how and why people stay. If that doesn't interest you, you'd better join another class." I couldn't tell you how much his words thrilled me! (Yes, I still have my text book from that class and many other classes.)

Fiction is all about relationships. It could be the relationship between two people, between a person and God, between a dog and a master, between husband and wife, between siblings, parent and child, friends etc. etc. It all fascinates me. I loved my classes on persuasion, conflict resolution, and argumentation (some of the comm kids went to law school).

All of my studies provided rich fodder for writing. One of my favorite classes was Fiction as Communication. Not only did I get to read the The Princess Bride by William Goldman but I also walked away with a valuable truth: everything is story.

Our lives are full of story. We live in story. But the difference between fiction and real life is that story in fiction has to make sense. Often in life random things happen. It has no meaning. In fiction, however, everything has meaning or else it's weird.

We are all the heroes of our own story. We see things from our filters, our own unique view point. What fiction helps us do is to see the world from a different view point, to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes," to gain a new perspective, to understand why. Fiction is a gift to understand our fellow humans and what it means to be human, to laugh, cry, to have pain, to suffer. We gain empathy, compassion and insight into human nature. This is why I write. This is why I read.

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