Authors Rationalize Their Existence
An author can instantly create anything from an exact copy of something well known to a completely fictitious world that doesn’t have a single resemblance to our own. They need only abide by a few rules that generally concern social norms. Of course, authors continue to push the boundaries.
For example, Harry Potter can use his magic wand to give life to a flower. Biologists, physicists, engineers, and religious experts all say this action is impossible and of course, immoral. However, authors and readers enjoy “lively fiction” and accept this timid creation of life.
It is perfectly natural for an author to write fiction. Readers understand that liberties may be taken and not all stories reside on a foundation of truths. It is therefore acceptable to develop alternate physics, morals, and existences. Authors have no rules and only answer to book critics. Let’s name the flower Julie. Sound good?
In my book Interviewing Immortality, I explore the scientifically/medically impossible concept of immortality. In order to do so, I provided a detailed explanation of the lead character’s life and the mechanism by which she survived. This allows the reader to comfortably take the leap into fantasy and enjoy an implausible plot.
However, this fantasy world can get messy. Let’s look at giving life to a flower. Harry Potter waves his wand, poof, a common flower comes to life and begins speaking. Who taught Julie to speak? Does that flower now have rights? What if another character stepped on Julie and she died? Did the flower have a soul? Do we need to bury Julie in a cemetery? Do the other flower’s regret her passing? Wow, that got complex fast.
The reader is encouraged to “ignore” the ethical implications of giving Julie life. Authors bank on this fact and use the living flower as a magical plot tool. “The flower instantly came to life, smiled, and we decided to call her Julie. What a wonderful day.”
Readers accept fantasy characters and concepts in fiction. Chewbacca will never exist; he is a tall guy in a fake fur costume. However, we still like Chewbacca and love it when he beats up a storm trooper. Writing fiction is normal, and it is healthy to think in terms of unrealistic fantasy.
There is an issue associated with writing fiction. Writers are special people and they view the world from a unique perspective. What could the world be like? How can I make it better, worse or the same with a twist? This can lead to unintended consequences.
Fiction authors often set their own reality aside. In doing so, they escape their lives. In this “improved” world, an author does not have to answer to laws, physics or even their boss who yelled at them for showing up late because they spent the night writing.
How does an author fight back? Easy, “Bob strolled into work late as usual. His Jake confronted him again and told him he would be fired if he did not show up on time. Jake went too far this time and Bob hatched a plan. His boss would die tonight!” Wait a minute. Did the author (a real person) just write down a fantasy where he pretended to kill his own boss (also a real person)? Indeed, he did. Is that healthy? Umm, well, probably not (it might even be considered evidence in a trial.) Or is writing a healthy way of dealing with stress? After all, it is just a fantasy. Jake is alive and Bob has no real plans of killing him.
An author can travel into their deep realm of fantasy. They begin to envision the real world just like what they are writing about. Author Bill does not have a million dollars to spend on a flashy new car. “Bob worked hard that month and Jake rewarded him with a million-dollar bonus.” “Now that’s more like it! Finally, the respect I deserve. I think I am going to buy that car I always wanted.” It’s that easy to dive into fantasy. It can be like an addictive drug that falsely makes a person feel better. In this world, everything makes sense (well, at least to the author) and life is good. I have felt this pull and I often wish I could change the real world into one I have created. However, I now know it is best not to pull too deep from one’s personal experiences. I also learned that people get upset when they are fictionalized.
In the Dilbert comic strip, Scott Adams based many of his comics on his own life experiences. The pointy-haired boss actually exists. As viewers of the comic, we all got a good laugh. What really happened? Scott Adams cannot yell at his boss, so he made a cartoon. Is that healthier? Maybe? What did the actual pointy haired man feel about those cartoons? He is probably very upset, and this made for a bad work situation.
Fantasy is a reflection of reality; a collection of what might be possible even though our present rules of society and science prevent such a story from actually occurring. However, the “world has to make sense” and an author makes “facts” fit their own reality. The further an author dives into their fantasy, the worse it can become. At times, during or right after writing, I feel like I’m not in reality. That I can create something from thin air. I suppose this is the mark of a good author to be able to completely detach their minds. The trick is to understand where the line is and not to stay in fantasy.
I recall a comedian saying something like, “I got into comedy because it was cheaper than going to a therapist.” I suppose writing can be the same escape. I must admit that I do at times take a leap into fantasy to explore my own problems. Of course, life or my own mind is able to bring me back to boring reality. I have no doubt that other authors take too deep of a dive into their secret world and this is not healthy. For me, I am going to keep writing and see where this journey takes me. Perhaps one day this blog will be evidence at a trial. Ha! Made you think.
You’re the best -Bill
June 05 2019
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