So, what can't we write about?
According to this idea, we can't write about conflicts that generally apply to everyone. We can't write about aging, for example. Or homosexuality. Or poverty.
What can we write about?
We can write about choices that characters are making in the face of conflict.
I think this serves to focus our stories and simultaneously make them more emotional and easier to write. A book about aging will probably feel too flat. A book about a character trying to fight aging has the opportunity to carry more personal emotion. Instead of trying to write about the plight of the world, writing about the plight of a small set of characters allows a reader to connect better with the material. Making the subject a personal matter serves to anchor the story, both for the reader and writer.
Do you think about stories this way?
I think as I try to put meaning into my stories, I sometimes get caught up with the idea of trying to write a commentary on a subject. I'll include facts about poverty in third-world countries, or water contamination, or energy consumption. This is probably fine in small quantities, but I think one risks losing their reader if the characters and their journeys are replaced with statistics. Stories can educate readers about subjects without being only about those particular subjects.