I often think that being a writer has little to do with actually writing, and is, rather, a state of mind, perhaps even a psychological condition. (No, I am not diagnosing myself with any form of psychosis).
To write, you must have a mind that is fertile to the possibility of exploring the furthest reaches of imagination, a mind capable of creating worlds which mirror our own enough for humanity to see themselves in it, but which differ enough that we do not see through the allegory. To write, you have to be barking mad (something which I excel at).
To have this state of mind, though, means that it isn’t easy out in the real world. I feel more comfortable in book-world, where anything is possible, and things have to make sense, and courage is rewarded. Stories are life at a higher octave. Good is purely good, and bad is deliciously evil. Even the grey areas of morality are cut in the brightest hue of oppressive clouds. Everything is sharper, stronger, stunningly defined. And me? Where do I fit into this passionate world? Where do I fit into the worlds I am capable of creating? I fit them better than anything, but they are not where I am allowed to reside. I belong, puzzlingly, in the world of reality, not that of fiction.
But I am used to stories, I am used to the comfort of fiction, and I often find myself acting in ways which would be perfectly suitable for a fictional character to act, but not a real person. I speak my mind far too often, and I stand up for the downtrodden, and I question the system, and a tiny part of me genuinely does believe that the government is going to turn into an (even more) oppressive dictatorship and remove all our remaining freedoms. Because I grew up with heroines like Tris Prior and Katniss Everdeen. I spent my formative years reading books about kick-ass girls, and I have learnt from the best.
I also learnt to believe in justice, in love, in revolutions, in smart girls getting happy endings, and that goodness doesn’t always prevail (thanks George R R Martin) but that you should strive for it anyway.
Books don’t teach us how to act, how to think, what to believe… What they do teach us is self-sufficiency: self-sufficiency of imagination, and of ideology, and identity. I struggle a lot with identity, because my defining traits are so juxtaposed that I feel I never really “fit”. I don’t do moderation. At the same time I can be both the devil’s advocate, and a complete angel. I will smile sweetly as I challenge everything you hold as truth. I love arguments, I love debates, I love challenges, but I don’t love being mean. I want everyone to be nice to each other, and to live in peace, but I also want to shake up the world and fight injustice. I want to be influential, and I want to be unknown. I have never felt myself to be more or lesser than anyone else, but I have always felt different, set-apart. I am from a different plane, a different wavelength. I have always felt like an alien, and all I crave is to find someone of my own species; someone who understands me. I would rather argue with someone interesting than get on well with someone boring. When I say I want someone like me, I don’t mean a carbon copy, I don’t mean a clone. I want someone who isn’t afraid to challenge me, as long as they don’t mind me challenging them.
If life is a playground, then I want someone with whom I can build sandcastles of ideology, built upon pillars of intellect. I want someone whom I can talk to about something a little less mundane than the weather. Seriously, why can’t we talk about politics, or human rights, or animal welfare, or the perils of capitalism? I don’t care if it’s raining, or if the sun’s shining, because my mind is always filled with thunder and lightning, and that is what I have grown used to.
But, in this “real” world, it is rare to find someone whom I connect with, and so I find myself drawn back into the world of fiction, of beautiful lies about beautiful liars. My fantasies are etched in fiction, and my fiction is etched with fantasies. Yet reality demands my attention, demands that I stare it in the face when all I want to do is close my eyes and lose myself in the ink on pages and the lyrics of songs. We don’t choose to be real, yet this is the world into which we are born, and we can’t leave. The current crashes in from every direction, preventing our escape. But it’s all in our minds: the ocean that stifles our movement, the reality which entraps us…everything. It is our minds which trap us, so it is in our minds where the solution lies. I cannot live in a world which makes sense to me, so I must make sense of this world the only way I know how: by using reality as a mirror for fiction, rather than fiction as a mirror for reality. Maybe then I can understand this world.
Perhaps it is a gift, not a curse, to belong to the world of fantasy, of daydreams, of stories. Because that world is the world of ideas, and it is through ideas that we can change the world. So if works of fiction are what inspires me to get up on my soapbox and shout to the world about things which are only talked of in whispers, then failing to belong is perhaps the greatest blessing I will ever receive.