Identity Crisis: the Point of Re-inquiring

Identity Crises come in many forms.

And with any luck, they lead to positive changes. This one is no exception.

On The Inquisitive Inkpot’s 30th birthday, it has come face-to-face with the reality it can no longer deny: it is something different from what it set out to be. Not because it hasn’t grown or learned, but rather because it has.

When I first started writing this blog, I thought it was going to be strictly about historical fiction.

By the tenth post, however, it began to take its own direction, much like characters coming to life and defying the author’s intentions. Any author can identify with that struggle.

What the past 30 weeks have shown me (no, this blog is not 30 years old) is that it is impossible to limit meaningful discussion to one genre.

Why?

Every writer has to be able to blog or journal about things that will both benefit him/her and whoever else reads it.

(And in case you were wondering, “whoever,” not “whomever” is correct in this case because it is the subject of the last clause. 🙂 ) A blog is most meaningful when the pieces challenge you as the writer, not just your readers. When the topics force you to stop and think multi-directionally, not just linearly. As one of my mentors, the esteemed philosophy professor Dr. James Stephens at Hillsdale College, puts it, “thinking sideways.”

Why should we bother with that?

Because we were born to participate, not just to receive.

Every book, movie, or story you come across contains some sort of message.

Some messages are more encrypted than others, but the point is that any time you sit down and try to decode that message, you begin to engage with its rhetoric. You are looking at the work in front of you and breaking down its parts to analyze their purpose. You assign value to those parts. You form opinions. You are no longer just a passive recipient of the message, but an active participant who is capable of evaluating the message for its truth, persuasiveness, and beauty. And this applies to all stories, not just historical ones.

The beauty that I see in this is that we learn best how to create our own original art when we have studied all the kinds of art out there—not only the kind we want to make. Because the best stories are not contained strictly within their genre. They transcend and reach other audiences who might otherwise dislike that genre. The best stories are capable of teaching every artist something, and for this reason we writers would do well to read and watch things out of our “zone.”

So what’s changing about The Inquisitive Inkpot isn’t the asking of questions. The scope of questions is simply expanding. It’s expanding to include stories in all forms and consider all aspects of the telling. Because it’s not a choice between broadening horizons or deepening the well. The best quests are the ones that do both.

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