"does it really change anyone's mind?"
"what difference does it make?"
I get asked these questions. Sometimes by well meaning friends, sometimes by enemies (physical and otherwise).
Two summers ago, I read this. I return to it again and again. I'm still working out the hows, but the why? Clear as crystal.
from Listening to Your Life:
"...the words you read become in the very act of reading them part of who you are...if there is poison in the words, you are poisoned; if there is nourishment, you are nourished; if there is beauty, you are made a little more beautiful... a word doesn't merely say something, it does something. It brings something into being. It makes something happen...
what Red Smith said was more or less this: "Writing is really quite simple, all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and open a vein." ... I couldn't agree with Red Smith more. For my money, anyway, the only books worth reading are books written in blood.
Write about what you really care about - write about what matters to you - not just things to catch the eye of the world but things to touch the quick of the world the way they have touched you to the quick, which is why you are writing about them.... Then, the things your books make happen will be things worth happening - things that make the people who read them a little more passionate themselves for their pains, by which I mean a little more alive, a little wiser, a little more beautiful, a little more open and understanding, in short a little more human.
...looking at their lives in this world as candidly and searchingly and feelingly as they know how and then telling the rest of us what they have found there most worth finding - we need the eyes of writers like that to see through. We need the blood of writers like that in our veins."