When studying the craft of fiction writing, I came across a quote by Leo Tolstoy that made a big impression on me. I copied it down, saved it. A few years later when I started The Secret Life of Bees, I pulled it out of my old notes and kept it on my desk throughout the writing:
|The aim of an artist is not to solve a problem irrefutably, but to make people love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations. If I were told that I could write a novel whereby I might irrefutably establish what seemed to me the correct point of view on all social problems, I would not even devote two hours to such a novel; but if I were to be told that what I should write would be read in twenty years time by those by who are now children and that they would laugh and cry over it, and love life, I would devote all my own life and all my energies to it.|
Writing teachers are always telling students to find their voice, which is great advice. I had one once who also told us to find our vision a north star that would guide the writing, something large to which we could aspire. I didnt know exactly what mine might be until I read Tolstoys quote.