Imagine there was no escape from real life. Imagine we had no ability to make up things in our heads, or write them down, or read or watch stories that transport us from the stresses of life and let us enjoy the impossible or improbable for a while. Imagine this is all there is. No dragons, zombies, princesses, aliens, intergalactic wars, or dashing international spies. Just work, bills, our own successes and failures, the constraints of reality and law and physics, and everyday life grinding on and on.
The thought makes me shudder.
As long as humans have been around, we’ve been making up stories. Probably because life is always hard in its own ways, whether you sheltered in a cave hundreds of thousands of years ago or you’re living modern life today. We can’t fly or teleport, and we probably won’t win the lottery or meet an alien race, but submerging ourselves for a while in world where those things are possible is a nice breather. Imaginations are wonderful things, and there’s plenty of studies that show immersing ourselves in fiction and daydreams is good for our mental health. If you’re sitting in a room with nothing but noisy pounding on the walls, putting on a pair of headphones and listening to music isn’t really getting you out of the room, but it can feel like you’ve escaped for a time.
This is why I love being a writer, and you should too–we get to save the world! From mediocrity, that is. From constant, never-ending strife. We get to be the ones to douse the rags with cool water to press to feverish brows. We get to be the ones to bring the rain to parched fields. I consider it a real honor and privilege that this chose me. I never lose sight of the fact when someone says “I really enjoyed your story” they’re saying “thank you for pulling me out of the pit for a while.” You don’t even have to write happy, fluffy stuff. Just like being scared on a rollercoaster is a fake dose of fear, experiencing the pain, anguish, anger, and desperation of fake people is cathartic because we know the danger isn’t real, but it’s still fun. Also, sometimes seeing exactly what we’re going through written out in black and white is a huge help.
Writing also gets us out of this rat race for a while. You often hear writers talk about being “zoned out” or so absorbed in their writing they forget the rest of the world. Everything disappears for a short time and the only thing that exists is the story. That’s one of the best feelings in the world, and I want my readers to feel it too. Sometimes, a distraction gives someone the power they need to tackle the real world crap, and sometimes it inspires them in ways they never imagined. As writers, we need to celebrate the stories of others too, because we need the distraction just as much as anyone.
If you’re a writer, you’re an important part of keeping this world from going over the edge–congratulations, and good job! The world will never have enough stories because people will always need them. So keep creating. You’re an important part of keeping people as happy as they can manage to be. Give yourself a gold star!