Sunday, December 8, 2013

Are Writers Posers?

The last couple of weeks were an interesting experience.  Having assumed some personalities I understood, and some I didn't, I felt challenged as a writer.  That doesn't mean I think I'm a master or something, as there were definitely times that I thought my stuff was flat.  That said, it got me thinking - are writers nothing more than posers?
(Something's just not right here)
I write stories I like to read.  Why do I do that?  Well, as a reader, I like to imagine myself in those roles.  I want to be Nate Caudell rushing across Rivington to stop the AWB.  I like to think that I could be Harry Potter and I'm off to destroy Voldemort's horcruxes.  We want to think that, in the right moment, we could be just as heroic, just as daring, as those characters we're reading about.  It therefore logically follows that we write about people we'd also like to be...even if sometimes those places aren't savory.  Stephen King famously admitted that one of the reasons he wrote The Shining was to get out the real feelings of antagonism he felt at times towards his own children.

So let's grant the premise - writers are posers.  We want to be other people sometimes, because those other people have far more exciting lives and higher ideals than we do.  To me, that makes the question not one of whether or not writers are posers, but whether or not that's a bad thing.

In my estimation, the answer is no.

We all fantasize and daydream.  I don't know a single person who hasn't imagined themselves playing the part of the hero - or even the villain at times - in a world much more exciting than their own.  Let's face it - real life isn't exciting most of the time.  Sure, it's stressful, like when you wonder if you're going to be fired, or just how bad the broken arm your kid got on the playground is, but it's not fantastical.  And that's what we yearn for.  Most of us feel like we were meant for greater things than stamping a bunch of invoices for new boxes of paper clips, so we dream about other possibilities.  The only difference for writers is that we put those thoughts on paper.

Through that, others can enjoy the same dreams.  Those that might not feel able to confess their deepest desires can follow our journey and feel part of an epic tale.  It's a release that lets us stay sane in a mundane yet insane world.

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