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the great escapism

all writers live somewhat vicariously through their writing. it's an easy thing to fall into. after all, when you're writing, you can perfectly script each part of the lives you are constructing, each facet of their experience and you can give it meaning. most people i know are pretty far from achieving that in their everyday life. most people i know spend a lot of time obsessing over parts of their lives that they want to change, but can't figure out how to change. i struggle with road blocks in writing, too, but the difference is that i know i can figure them out. i'm never so sure when it comes to life off the page. however, even if you want to dedicate as much of yourself to writing as possible, there must come a point where you have too much of a good thing. so exactly when does creativity become pathological?

i have substantial relationships with the people whose lives i've created. more substantial, for instance, than my relationships with people i talk to every day. (for all concerned, this is probably a good thing.) i won't even bother asking if that's "normal", because that's always been a term that annoyed me to no end, with its implication that it was somehow desirable to be in a state where one has achieved a similarity with the largest number of people. but i will ask if it is healthy, even from an artistic standpoint. after all, how am i going to be able to write meaningful things about real people if most of the people in my life are imaginary?

in defense of this sort of behaviour, i would like to point out that 1. i am still very conscious of the fact that the people who occupy my life are not real, as opposed to some of the people i see wandering around who have crossed that important boundary and; 2. i firmly believe that if you think about characters as having a life beyond the events written about in the stories they populate, it becomes a lot easier to write them. after all, you know what's motivating them, even if the reader doesn't (and will never find out).

my main concern, however, is not so much that these fits of introverted bliss will retard my future ability to write cogently and realistically, but with the havoc they might wreak on the state of the rest of my life. after all, if i'm spending all of my time with people who don't exist, doesn't it point to some problems dealing with the things in my life that do exist? any psychologist would probably tell you that it does. then again, psychologists exist to make people believe that they're not handling the real world very well and to listen to you when you get to the point where you believe them.

fact is, the time that i spend thinking about writing is more real to me than the staff meetings i have to attend on a regular basis with flesh and blood people, more meaningful than eighty percent of the conversations i have every day and more lasting than most of the incidental relationships i have in my life. most of the people i know are so obsessed with what they do for a living that it manages to permeate every aspect of every conversation they carry on. and when they're done talking, they fall asleep and dream about it. the ironic thing is that most of what they tell me is about how much they hate where they are. so if i spend more time thinking about my imaginary friends and less time thinking about the sad details that drive everyone else crazy, i think my outlook is pretty healthy.

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