The thirst for escapism and the need for fantasy

 

“You should really work on publishing that semi-autobiographical book you wrote, “The Preacher’s Son.” There is a lot of good stuff in there on religion, race, Southern culture, fractured father-son relationships, real good dark stuff that could sell.”

I’ve heard that sentiment echoed the last several months. I did write said book, “The Preacher’s Son,” several years ago. And while it does have some strong story points, I am happy to leave it in my drawer. Dust laden and undistributed for a long time, perhaps, forever, its 120,000 words quietly collecting dust. Why? A few reasons.

First of all, It was great therapy to write that book. I needed it. But, it was also painful and now that it has been exhumed from my system, I have no desire to revisit it. Even attempting to re-edit it has proved to an exercise in dark exertion.

Secondly, after having a close-enough-to-death experience in a cycling accident a few years ago, I decided that life was too short to do something one did not like i.e. if I was going to write another book, I wanted it be fun.

Fun to write.

Fun to read.

The type of book I like to read.

  • Ludlum-laced tension. 
  • Tolkien-striving world creation. 
  • Dan Brown pacing. 
  • T.S. Eliot and Dante inspired symbolism. 
  • Mysteries. Clues. Hints. Loss of truth. 
  • Cold-blooded villains. Broken heroes. Mysterious maps.

I suppose it was that amalgamation in my conscious and subconscious of those elements that birthed, “The Alexandria Rising Chronicles.” It is a series I enjoy writing and as I have told people again and again, “I hope that shines through.”

(By the way, writing is fun, editing and proofing and researching are work)

Through many, many years of writing in many forms, I have discovered that reading to escape, to create and to – yes, it is very low brow to state – have fun is key to a pleasant existence.

And I say this, not as a naïve dreamer, but as a hardened English major who survived Victorian literature – if you ever have a chance to read, ‘Dombey and Son’ by Charles Dickens, don’t – and as someone who has worked in journalism for almost two decades.

So, like those who read to escape.

I write to escape.

You see, it is much more fun and healthier to slay a villain after verbally annihilating him, than it is to do so to a colleague or someone who cuts you off in traffic.

There is also the fact that sometimes we all need to escape. This world is not perfect, we’re all fighting some type of battle. Those we love die. Those we expect so much from, let us down. We let others down. Bills pile up. The car breaks down. Injustice and hypocrisy is everywhere.

So, again, back to the point.

Writing and reading to escape.

I often like to refer to J.R.R. Tolkien when I talk about this type of borderline apologetics for writing escapism. Tolkien went to World War I along with 17 of his classmates at Oxford.

Only two returned.

Two.

After surviving the gore of the Somme, he was quoted as saying:

“I have been a lover of fairy-stories since I learned to read,” he later wrote in an essay in which he passionately defended fantasy and “escapist” fiction: “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

Here, here.

And as a side note, “The Alexandria Rising Chronicles” has just been the start of this new chapter – pun intended – in my creative life. I’ve also recently begun two young adult novels which take place on other planets. I suppose if one is to go all out, well, let’s go all the way.

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