Yes, stories and fantasy are escapism, and diving into another world has always drawn me. Something new, a chance to be someone else, to do and see things a part of someone else’s life. To explore darkness and success, to live it vicariously. But above all, the reason I read, is for the adventure. Some of the books I remember loving as a child, when I first discovered how much I loved reading, were classic sort of adventures – three boys shipwrecked on a paradise island, four children left to fend for themselves in a a beautiful old house in war-time and disappear into a fantastical world of dangers and magic, even the Animals of Farthing Wood is an adventure, the animals setting off on an epic journey of unknown challenges.
Why do I crave this adventure?
Maybe because I can live out a whole life-times worth in an afternoon? Maybe because I forget my own worries while I’m on the adventure. Do I want to be the characters I read about? Sometimes I suppose. Sometimes, it’s just the thrill of being privy to another person’s world I think. To get caught up in their world and want to see it through to the end, just for the excitement of knowing what happens. I read for the feel of the story, the connection to someone’s strength, or someone’s wildness, the feel of their love, the darkness of their battle, the feeling of wrongness being righted, the feeling of finding a place or strength, the uncovering of a truth. The way a story helps me understand my own darkness, my own grief, my own sadness, my own strength and bravery, my own ambition. All adventures teach me something.
Are these the same reasons I write? To have lived through an epic adventure. To have lived and died in a world of my own imagining. To have fought evil, to have braved dangerous foe and gone on epic journeys. To have imagined all this and lived it in my head. I think this is why I write.
I’ve been pondering these things as I start to send my first novel out to agents. I have had two ‘no’s’ so far and I’ve been wondering, as all writers before me probably have, how I will feel if nobody says yes. Will my story still have value to me?
And I think, the answer is yes.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to give it everything I have. You don’t follow dreams, you chase them down. It’s time I started fighting harder.