The Writer’s Role in Society

Writers only need to gather stories and tell them. "I'm not trying to deliver any kind of mission, and I don’t think I have a mission—except telling a story," says the author.
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Question: What should the writer’s role in society be?

Isabel Allende: Tell stories.  Gather stories and tell them.  Personally, I don’t feel I have a mission that I have to preach about anything.  I write about things I care for, the things I believe.  And I just want to tell a story.  Why have I chosen that story in particular and not another one?  Why I have never chose a story about Wall Street, for example? Because it has nothing to do with me.  It doesn’t touch me in any way.  And I chose stories of strong women, of marginal people, of violence, and death, and loss, and love, and friendship, because that’s what really has been important in my life.  So, the person I am and what I think sort of filters in through the lines, but I’m not trying to deliver any kind of mission, and I don’t think I have a mission—except telling a story. 

Isn’t your work with your foundation part of a mission?

Isabel Allende: But that is not my writing.  That is my life.  And you asked me about my writing.  And as a citizen, as a human being, as a woman, I think I do have an obligation and a mission to help my sisters.  I'm very privileged.  I had education, health care, I have a husband that loves me and I’ve never been beaten up, I have had a good life.  And I have had, of course, losses like everybody does, but my life has not been bad.  And in my lifetime, I have lived the struggle of feminism for 50 years.  And I see that not everything that we thought would be achieved by now has been achieved.  There is still a lot of work to be done and I want to be part of that work.  So, that’s what my foundation does.  We work in empowerment of women and girls in the areas of health care, protection, and education.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Priya George