There are some moments that are so genuinely still that you can hear the molecules of the universe dance through the ether. In these tiny spaces between atoms, there’s just the most fleeting glance of that place where all the points in our lives intersect like long lines trailing off into the inky black.
It’s a place where all things are possible, many things are probable and the infinite isn’t all that overwhelming. It’s a place of peace and chaos. It’s the end and the beginning and all the stuff in the middle. The loves, the hurts, the wins, the losses, the missed opportunities.
For us, it’s where writing and real life intersect. It’s like looking into the abyss, except something a lot more specific than the general universe looks back.
For writers, life happens in two places: one is in our heads, where, let’s face it, most of us have a pretty rich internal existence. It’s a blessing and it’s a curse. It’s a great place to escape to when things are too much, but it can be incredibly tempting to just stay there forever. The other place, of course, is in actual real life. And by real life, on this Earthly plane, I also mean social media, because, frankly, that’s pretty damn real if you make it real.
Our work, by its very nature, overlaps those two worlds. We dream it and then we make it, it doesn’t matter if we’re novelists or lowly copywriters. We breathe life into worlds every day. Your world might be a planet with six moons and two stars, but my world where my client’s product makes bedtime an easier job for parents is just as much a fantasy. If I can’t see it before it exists, I can’t tell you the story of how your load will be lighter.
And this is where things get dodgy for us, I think.
It can get weird trying to sort out what’s work and what’s life and what parts are both. Compartmentalization is the most valuable tool in a writer’s arsenal, I don’t care what anybody tells you. And maybe it’s easier for fiction writers or people who don’t need to believe what they’re telling the world to weave those words into gold without walking the wire.
But for me, and maybe for you, reality checks are vital. Sometimes I feel like I’m kind of living in a world that’s between all things, but the truth is that the fantasy is just that — it’s the fantasy. That can never be forgotten or we’ll be lost forever in the depths of our own minds.
The Intersection and The Greater World
Having recently left a relationship that was only surviving because I was clinging to shreds of fantasy, I can tell you that the intersection isn’t the best place to hang out. It stifles you. It keeps you from being all you might be since you’re putting all your energy into world-building a scenario that a big part of you knows isn’t real.
Escapism isn’t the solution, kids. You have to face your stuff. Your demons, your reality, even your choices at the polls on this Super Tuesday. Hit that shit headlong and believe me, life will be so much better.
The tools we use to give people hopes and dreams and desires are the same ones that will sink us if we’re not careful. Someone has to pilot the ship, it can’t be left to the wind and the waves. Currents are deceptively treacherous because they feel like they’re taking us in a direction that’s best because the resistance is so low.
Trust me, I get tired of fighting, but there are too many things in this life worth fighting for, we have to battle on. Even if that battle is against ourselves and our urge to just… not.
Take Control of Your Ship
Wherever you are today, you can grab that rudder and start wrestling reality back from your layers of fantasy. You can dig yourself out of your creative mind and pop back up into the world like a determined gopher. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been down there, the light is so close, you just have to reach for it.
Start by owning it. Own that you’re dealing with your heavy shit by world-building. Then reach out to a professional. Read some books. Learn all you can about your situation from as many angles as you can. It’s a fucked up world, and we won’t always be perfect at being humans, but I think the trying is what really matters here.
Once you’ve owned it, studied it, understood it, sift it like a bag of Skittles, sorting out the bits that you need or want from the ones that are sending you deeper into that fantasy world (that includes the banana-flavored bits, gross). Don’t let your inner writerly world be the same place that you go to deal with life stresses. Do that outside your head.
Tell your neighbor that if their dog poops on your lawn one more time, you’ll start flinging it at their house.
Correct the cashier that insists your coupons are expired when they clearly aren’t.
Tell people you love them.
Accept that they won’t always love you back.
Sing at the top of your lungs to an empty room.
Sing at the top of your lungs to a crowded room.
Do that thing you thought would be impossible, just to see if it is.
You don’t have to live in a fantasy for your life to be the one you deserve. You can get that on the exterior of your skull. Really. I promise. Whatever your dreams are, you deserve a chance to pursue them.
Explode back into real life, my friends. I promise, I promise it’s so worth it.