Fiction, any kind of fiction is an escape from reality. It is not a question of genre it is a question of need. Human beings need to escape every once and a while into their own imagination. This is hardly earth-shattering news, it has been discussed previously by more eminent commentators than me but it does explain something, however, it gives me a reason as to why I write in the first place.
Writing seems to have always been one of the things that I have done. Thanks to my mother I could both read and write before I started school and it was not long afterwards that I wrote my first story; I think it was about a dinosaur. Yes, it probably was because dinosaurs have also been with me since a very early age.
My imagination has always been good and I have always enjoyed stories that have inspired it. Movies, television, comics, and books were all an important resource of new adventures and ideas for me. If I was not being inspired by them then I was acting on that inspiration. When I was at school I used to write, draw, and circulate my own comics among my friends. This would involve me spending hours drafting stories, drawing compartments, and then using pencil and ink to populate them with some fantastic heroes’ puerile adventures. In fact, I would say that this occupied most of my time but I would also say that it was time well spent.
Growing up in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s exposed me to a less than compassionate society with regards to my physical disability. Having the ability to create my own imaginary worlds gave me an avenue of escape when I found the real world to be less than hospitable. I do not know if this helped me cope, the fact that I am still here and still creating suggests that it did something good, I believe. My worlds are immersive. When I write or draw I tend to get lost in the whole creative experience. Whole days have gone by with me paying very little attention to anything else but what I am doing. It often seems that only the most basic body functions have the power to eventually bring me back to the here and now. As I have grown older the need to enter the world of my imagination has never diminished and in some respects it might even have grown. I seem to spend a lot of my time just thinking. Of course, I did spend a lot of my early life just waiting to see doctors at the hospitals. Many of my appointments used to last all day and we did not have mp3 players, kindles, or android tablets to divert ourselves with back then. I think that I learned to live in my head as a coping mechanism to deal with the sheer boredom of sitting in the waiting rooms of the various clinics that I had to attend.
Feeling powerless might also have something do with it. Children are relatively powerless in comparison to adults in almost every way. Society is something that you have to grow into and even when you have achieved the status of an adult you can still be left with a feeling of a lack of power to change things to your own advantage. Being disabled, even today, only magnifies that problem, but living in your own world can remove that feeling.
If people find some form comfort from day-dreaming, whether it is winning a jackpot in the lottery (one of my favourites) or scoring the winning goal for their favourite team or meeting a celebrity then that is probably good for their mental health. It is fleeting, however, and largely insubstantial. Creating your own world in meticulous detail is not. I know that I am not alone in this belief or experience. Anyone who does anything creative will, I am sure, understand. It is not just about writing, which is generally a very long process, unless you concentrate on short stories I suppose, it occurs in almost every instance of creativity. A painting can become a whole world in and of itself during the creation of it and the same holds true for other human activity in the creative pantheon.
One aspect of writing that I do not identify with is the notion of playing god. I have never thought of myself in this context. I am very aware that every fictional world that I create is mine logically, but it is not a playground. I do not create characters at a whim to put them through some form of torture for my own amusement. That is not how it works, well, for me at least. The story comes first and it is the driving force behind everything else. My worlds evolve both from and around the story. I only create what I feel needs to be created but I must admit that sometimes I can get a little lost in it all. When I was writing the Sorrow Song Trilogy I really threw myself into the research of the period, 1066. I learned probably more than I needed to know to tell the story. I say this because I am aware that there is a lot of detail that I did not use in the final books. It may well be, however, that my awareness of these other details influenced the way I wrote as well. Certainly, I have had some very kind acknowledgements that my books are well researched.
I do not believe that I write simply to satisfy some psychological need to create imaginary worlds. To be honest, I do not think that I need any reason to indulge in such exercises of imagination. Rather, I believe that I write because I can create imaginary worlds. I write because the whole process gives me tremendous satisfaction. My worlds are not complete, they never could be as they are the product of just one person’s experience of life, totally subjective, but they are complete to me within the boundaries that inspired their creation. They are an escape from a reality that is often hard, cold, and cruel, and a world that is equally beyond our control and before which we often seem insignificant. I write because I can create alternative worlds that are more to my liking and I would like to think that people read my books because they want to live, even if only for a short while, in such a world as I have written about.