This is the opening of A Writer's Guide to Fiction (Writer's Compass). What a way to think about what writers do!
The moment you lay down your first words of fiction, you become a magician like David Copperfield. Through the alchemy of craft and story, you create an illusion where the reader suspends disbelief, just as Copperfield makes his audiences believe he's made a Boeing 747 airplane disappear.
Modern neuroscientists have discovered what ancient shamans have known all along: Stories have power. Power to heal, to destroy, and to change history. In fact, fiction may have a longer-lasting effect than magic. Thought releases brain chemicals and neural electricity. Stories can "get under the skin" and integrate into the interior landscape of the self - and perhaps of the soul.
We writers receive no greater compliment than to have our readers lament the ending of a story. Imagine how you would feel knowing that your characters - their lives, dilemmas, and triumphs - live on in the memory of your readers side by side with memories of actual people and situations.