I probably should be writing a mentee bio for Pitch Wars, but . . . well, that’s not really the kind of writing I’m best at–writing about myself–and, anyway, I feel that I’d like my story to stand on its own. Still, fingers crossed for MAGE STORM everyone.
Instead, I’m going to write about using stories as an escape. It’s one (only one) of the primary purposes of fiction–to take us away from our day-to-day lives and problems for a little while.
This post was inspired by a quote by Dorothy L. Sayers (who wrote the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries) I read somewhere:
Lord Peter’s large income… I deliberately gave him… After all it cost me nothing and at the time I was particularly hard up and it gave me pleasure to spend his fortune for him. When I was dissatisfied with my single unfurnished room I took a luxurious flat for him in Piccadilly. When my cheap rug got a hole in it, I ordered him an Aubusson carpet. When I had no money to pay my bus fare I presented him with a Daimler double-six, upholstered in a style of sober magnificence, and when I felt dull I let him drive it. I can heartily recommend this inexpensive way of furnishing to all who are discontented with their incomes. It relieves the mind and does no harm to anybody.
It’s pleasant to share time–either writing or reading–with a character that doesn’t have to worry about the same things we do. As a writer, I have more scope for this than my readers. I get to spend more time with the characters as I write and revise the story than readers ever will. Plus, I get to determine the backgrounds–privileged or impoverished–from which my characters come.
Of course, those characters do have to have problems or there isn’t much of a story. This wasn’t too much of an issue for Lord Peter, because his problem was almost always a mystery to be solved. Only a few times did those mysteries really impinge on his life.
For other kinds of stories–quests, for example, which are common in fantasy and even some science fiction–that won’t work. We have to put the characters in real danger, chase them up trees and throw rocks at them.
But, you know, even that is a kind of escape. Going along, from our safe arm chairs, on hair-raising adventures or romantic adventures, takes us out of the here and now temporarily. Some days, we all really need that.
Good thing those stories are fun to write, too, isn’t it?