I used to dream that I opened up a bookcase in my game room and found a dazzling, rainbow-colored star that gave me magical powers. I’d swing from ropes and blast light out of my hands and generally just kick a lot of ass.
You’re probably thinking, well Dani, I’m sure glad you grew out of that. But you’re wrong. Now I just put those dreams into my stories. My first novel attempt? My main character could shoot a magical beam. My second? My characters could summon electricity from lightning. Third? She radiated sacred magic. And now? I’m literally writing a book about the magic of color.
The thing is, I was always sick as a child. I was sick of sitting still in class and learning about reality when all I wanted to do was live in a dream world. I just wanted to leave class in high school and camp out at Barnes and Noble. I wanted to learn about publishing and jump ahead in life to the part where I got to do what I love — live in a story world.
Don’t get me wrong. My childhood was great. I was very loved and blessed. But really, that love is what started this whole fascination with the unreality. My parents used to read me stories, from Rudyard Kipling to Beatrix Potter. Mrs. Spider’s Tea Party, The Rainbow Fish, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Doctor Seuss, Roald Dahl. At some point I decided I wanted to go Matilda on the world and just read my way to success.
I jokingly call it my childhood affliction, the point in my life when I planted one foot in reality and one foot in the story world, never to cross the threshold one way or another. It’s difficult to commit to the story world when you know you have stuff to do — fold the laundry, feed that cat, show people you love them and haven’t abandoned them for a world where you can literally rearrange matter based on color magic. Ahem.
It’s also hard to cross over into reality when you know you have fictional stuff to do — rescue your hero from emotional self-destruction, rearrange your scenes into a breathtaking story arc, give the heroine enough self-confidence to kick ass and save the day.
I’m sure most creative types can agree with me. We live in two worlds, and both tug at us with the words “duty,” “responsibility,” “love,” and success. I don’t know the answer to balance. I just know one thing.
Ignore reality and live in fiction, and you’ll live a lie.
Ignore fiction and live in a reality, well, that’s a lie too.