What We Crave

“In a digital world saturated with technicolor brilliance and filtered, unobtainable beauty, modern humans seem unmoored and at sea. We crave stories to tell us who we are.” – Min Jin Lee, Best American Short Stories 2023

When I first logged on to the Internet in 1993, I was thrilled by the possibilities of connection.

When, some time later, I clicked on my first hyperlink (on a page that gloried under the catchy address of something like “”) I distinctly remember thinking,

“This is exactly how I want life to operate,”

and, at the same time,

“I am in sooooo much trouble.”

Picture me, hunched in front of a mushroom-colored 14-inch monitor, clicking and reading, and clicking and reading, and leaping down the rabbit hole

We Were Warned

That first hyperlink was the start of something that changed the world and I was there for it.

But it turns out I was Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s hat, summoning a wave I couldn’t control.

I was the old woman with the magic porridge pot.

I was King Midas.

We all were.

(It’s 1999, and the distractions have only got shinier! Like my cheeks!)
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice thought he wanted power. What he really needed was control.
  • The old woman with the magic porridge pot thought she wanted an endless supply of food. What she needed was ‘enough’.
  • We thought we wanted endless facts, exposure to more people, more ideas. What we need is the wisdom that comes from enough knowledge.

The stories tried to warn us.

Writers Have A Head Start

Yes, we get distracted by the glossy online world sometimes, but writers really do have a huge advantage over other mortals.

We go out of our way to make time to create worlds and characters who wrestle with big human questions:

  • What if I break the rules, just this once?
  • What if I had everything I ever lacked?
  • What if they won’t love me?
  • What’s beyond the fence at the end of the garden?

Believe it or not, most people are rushing through their days NOT staring into space and thinking about these things.

But when they do have time to unwind, they all want to do it with stories: in books, on screens, in song.

Because stories — not facts, not reels, not personality quizzes — tell us who we are.

Your Turn

Make some time for your writing in the next three days.

Use this prompt if you need a nudge.

And please believe me when I say

“You are a writer. Stories are what make us human. Stories keep us safe. Stories show us how to be human. Stories are the way we learn. No matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ your stories and your subject matter, your stories matter.”

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What’s your biggest distraction from your writing? How did you last conquer it. Leave a comment!