During our last meeting, one of my critique partners said something that’s been resonating in my mind ever since: “I used to read for escape,” he said, “but now I write for escape.”
This insight stuck with me because I’ve had much the same thought—and more than once. When you write, you create a whole new world, with new people, new places, new happenings, all of which you control and willingly enter. It’s your own special place where everything goes accord to your plan—except for one inconvenient fact. The characters often have minds of their own and take turns and detours you never anticipated. That might seem to contradict the idea that writing is escape, but on further thought, it doesn’t. Not knowing what happens next is part of the Big Escape.
Case in point: When I began The Design is Murder, #5 in my Murders by Design Series, I had no inkling that a little five pound dog named
(that's her below) would become a major player in the
story, but she did. Charlotte
even helped nab the killer. In fact, she was so delightful, I couldn’t
bring myself to have her spayed, never mind bump her off. So as she came more and more involved in the
plot, her antics provided a welcome diversion. Charlotte
And then there was boorish Stew Hawkins (that is not him above!). No manners, no couth, he bought a trophy wife who three weeks later ended up dead. Yet halfway through the book, I started thinking, “You know, I’d go out with this guy.” Who’d have guessed that? Not DH. Not even moi. The thing is Stew was so outrageous, so over-the-top that the more I wrote about him, the more he drew me into his life. And the more I fled, however temporarily into his world, the more the problems of the real world faded.
As for reading to break away from the everyday—which most of us do as well--here’s a radical view by memoirist Mary Kaer. In The Week Magazine, she’s quoted as saying. “
is socially accepted
disassociation. You flip a switch and
you’re not there anymore. It’s better
than heroin.” Reading
Hmm. I wonder which drug Ms. Kaer would compare writing to? I refuse to say Viagra.
How about you? Have you ever experienced writing as escape? If so, when in the story did the realization strike?
Jean Harrington is the author of the award-winning Murders by Design Series available on Amazon. Link is: http://www.amazon.com/Rooms-Die-For-Murders-Design-ebook/dp/B00F942VL8