Trudy G. Shaw offers a powerful and illuminating essay on sub-creations readers return to again and again because there is always something more to explore and learn from. These are some of the greatest nuggets of wisdom, I love the most, especially the last one:
If a piece of writing is to have staying power, first-time readers have to become second-time readers; teenaged fans need to become adult admirers; and, hopefully, some of its appreciative readers will become its scholars.
. . .
Part of this quality comes from having a secondary creation broad and deep enough to draw readers in, and then give them somewhere to go after they arrive. The sense of a larger history is important, especially the awareness that the characters and events we’re reading about have a place in that history. We can marvel with Sam that the great tales never end, and that we are, in fact, inside one.
. . .
We often hear, “Write what you know.” Using Tolkien as a model, we might say instead, “Write from your passion.” He was passionate about language and early northern European literature; that’s why he spent his lifetime studying and teaching about them. In addition, his faith and life experience fed the deeper themes present in LotR. Some of us know very well what our passion is; it might be the thing that drove us to write in the first place. For others, it may take some soul searching. We can certainly be passionate about more than one area of life. If we write from our passion, we’re offering readers something we care deeply about, and we’re also speaking from something within ourselves that is already many layered and, in some ways, unending (because we never stop discovering it). What could be a better foundation for a work that will grow and change with our readers?
Where is your passion going to take you and us, your readers?