A few weeks ago, Mr. Johns and I watched a movie I really enjoyed: True Memoirs of an International Assassin starring Kevin James. The premise of the movie is that there is an unpublished writer trying for his big break, and when his book is picked up by an online publisher, he is mistaken for an actual assassin.
It’s very funny with some great action… but one thing really bothered me. The movie’s “moral,” is that the writer needs to get an actual life instead of living vicariously through his characters. Ouch.
I’m a writer who writes a lot, so you can see how this might hit a nerve for me. I spend most of my time clattering away on a keyboard, and I have to say–I don’t want to live the drama that I write!
That’s the fun of books, isn’t it? You get to slip into the skin of a completely different person and live a life of danger and drama that you don’t actually want to experience in your own humble existence. In a book, you can run out on your own wedding when you discover your fiance is cheating on you, or you can adopt triplet newborns that your half-sister left to you in her will… You can even take a huge romantic risk with an emotionally unavailable cop without any long term consequences!
In my real life, I don’t like drama. I like quiet days spent rattling away on my keyboard, I talk to two budgies about how pretty they are, and I consume copious amounts of tea. In my evenings, I make dinner for my family, agonize over ordinary things like child rearing, and flirt with Mr. Johns. I certainly don’t do all the things I write about! Thank goodness.
We all need an outlet, an escape. And fantasy is just that… it doesn’t actually work once you force it into the harsh light of day. Please, please don’t bring my books to life–I don’t think I could survive them! My heroes and heroines come out happily in the end, but real people would probably need years of therapy after all that.
So here’s to the readers and writers who prefer their drama between the covers of a good book. We aren’t missing out on anything… trust us. It’s better this way.