The Real World

To be honest, the real world can be a pretty dull place sometimes. What with its lack of dragons, evil stepmothers, wizards, elves and magic rings, it can be downright boring. When we get to feeling this way, of course, there’s always a quick cure for us Anti-Reality folks –

Read a book.

Write a book.

Watch a movie.

Anything to engulf ourselves in a world far more fantastic and surreal than we view our own. After all, I mean, adventures are hardly knocking on our door. We feel gypped since we grew up with two nice parents, nice siblings, and perhaps a family pet or two in a pleasant neighborhood. How quaint. How normal. How… un-fantastical.

Escapism versus Visitation Rights

Being as human as you are (I sadly lack pointy ears and/or magical ability) it’s easy to find myself looking wistfully out the window and wishing there was something to see, other than houses lining the street or the fence out back. And therein lies the problem. We, as fantasy writers (or perhaps fantasy readers  – let’s just say ‘lovers,’ it might be easier) find it very easy to get so wrapped up in our own imaginations that we tend to disregard the real things all around us. Your parent’s cousin coming to visit isn’t nearly as interesting as the dashing pirate captain in your head. Your little sister’s best friend is nowhere near as much fun to talk to as the adorable, red-haired, mischievous, freckle-faced little elven girl you’re currently writing about. We get so tangled up in fantasy worlds that we leave our own world behind… only to have our imagination dashed against the shoals of realism once we return.

And that can be disappointing… but it’s our own fault. When we feel our life is too flat, too boring, too gray, we slip into the colorful, fantastical life of a fictional character… and forget the difference between escapism and visitation rights. Yes, fellow dreamers, there is a difference. 

Now; I do not believe there is anything wrong with fiction. (Well, provided you’re discerning, that is!) Nothing at all. Jesus himself taught in fictional stories. He even uses things we would see as… fantasy elements. (A woman clothed in the sun? Sentient trees crowning a bush their king? A raging, multiple-headed dragon?) However, he used them to illustrate a point, not to escape from the real world.

And there, I believe, is where we so often go astray. God put us on earth for a purpose, and it isn’t to constantly have our heads in a fictional realm. While there’s nothing wrong with visiting, becoming full-time residents probably isn’t the best idea. “But I DON’T,” you might argue. “I read books, and write them, sure, but I don’t live there.”

If you’re anything like me, you probably live there more than you realize. I find it very easy to live ‘inside my head,’ often to the annoyance of anyone around me. This scenario happens more often than I care to remember:

“The beautiful heroine screamed as she was thrown from her fiery black steed. A searing pain shot up her arm; she knew it had been broken. The sword! It was gone – no, there! The evil mage, sent from the very depths of darkness, held the shining blade in his own hand. His burning eyes turned to face her and he spoke in a hollow voice-“

“Mirriam! Hello? Are you with us or not? Do you like cheese fondu or don’t you?”

“Hmm? Oh, no, I don’t.” His burning eyes turned to face her and he spoke in a hollow voice -“

“You know, sometimes you need to get your head out of the clouds. You spend more time up there than you do down here.”

“Huh? No, I don’t!”

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. This is something that authors throughout the years have struggled with; even Jan Karon, author of the beloved Mitford series, wrote in Victoria Magazine that she had trouble remembering that there were real people that needed her attention, and sometimes she had to let Mitford go and leave Father Tim, Cynthia and Dooley on the shelf, where they belonged.

It can be hard, especially for writers. After all, our minds are constantly spinning, weaving the fabric of fantastic worlds. They’re exciting. They’re colorful. They’re peopled with wonderful characters. And they’re… not real.

There’s nothing wrong with visiting. Just remember not to over stay your welcome.

 

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13 thoughts on “The Real World

  1. Thanks for the reminder!
    If I use fantasy as I should, and only “visit”, I know it helps make my life more interesting, not grey and flat.
    In everything moderation 🙂

  2. I LIKE this! Very well written, thought out, and true!
    Besides, what’s not amazing about this world? All we’ve got to do is THINK about it- I mean, come on, water?! The earth is mostly made up of it, we are mostly made up of it, and we can’t go more than three days without it (or something like that) and yet everything has substance. Think about air. Think about the extreme balance of the universe that makes it possible for us to survive. IT’S AMAZING!
    Love ya, dear!

  3. Thing is…I don’t want to live in the real world 🙂 I want to meet an elf, and be one. I’ve written story notes while walking down the road, I’ve randomly walked around the yard playing scenarios from my fantasy story. I’ve got something like seven fantasy stories going right now (some of them are chain novels, in fact mall but one.) I’m already planning my nano novel, it’s fantasy of course. Thing is.

    I like it this way! 😀 But yes, I spend more time writing and thinking than with my own family, now that it’s out there in the open. It’s a fault…but my characters die without me, they depend on me too 🙂 I have to find a happy medium, now I shall proceed to go write some more….

    ~Monica

  4. 😀 – nice post… perhaps you, Monica, and others like you would not find the world here so gray if you spent more time here – REALLY here, seeking God’s will for you HERE on a day to day person to person reality. After all, He made us for RELATIONSHIP, with Himself and others, and that can only be done down here! ❤

  5. Did you base an Elven child on me? That is so sweet! LOL, JK

    And you’ve crushed my dreams to go live in Middle Earth. Excuse me while I go cry into my pillow…and go eat and talk to my family. 😛

  6. Great post. That’s how I feel sometimes… I think that’s why I write fantasy. Because the “norm” there isn’t really normal. But I do come up for air at times. Otherwise I’d probably die from lack of oxygen 🙂

    And you know, “The Real World” is the name of one of my favorite Owl City songs.

    • HAHA; That’s no coincidence. I titled this post after that song XD You may notice the words under the title of my blog are from that song, too *grins* And pertinent to this post!! =)

  7. Miriam – you have no idea how intensely this post applies to me. Ahem. NO IDEA. >_>

    “We feel gypped since we grew up with two nice parents, nice siblings, and perhaps a family pet or two in a pleasant neighborhood. How quaint. How normal. How… un-fantastical.” < Story of my life. How did you know??

    "Your little sister’s best friend is nowhere near as much fun to talk to as the adorable, red-haired, mischievous, freckle-faced little elven girl you’re currently writing about. We get so tangled up in fantasy worlds that we leave our own world behind… only to have our imagination dashed against the shoals of realism once we return." Yes. ohhhhh yes.

    Excellent post. It's given me some things to think about. Thank you for it. 🙂

    I'd like to chat with you some time about this. 🙂
    -whisper

  8. Hey, very good post!
    When I was so wrapped up on LOTR I couldn’t stand it, I LIVED there. All I wanted to do was plant new stories about Frodo and Sam. Same goes for my Brothers of Honor, though it wasn’t as bad. Still, I was always holding conversations with them.
    With this new story, Cafe, I’m finding that since it’s more of a real life situation, I’m not there as much. Of course, in the shower, in the bathroom doing my hair, in my room alone, I’ll make up scenes and conversations that eventually go into my story. It’s just… I’m not living there, which is good! Like you said – it’s awesome to visit, talk to them, and then come back.

    I like real life scenario stories best because, well, they’re more likely to be in real life!
    It’s fun to incorporate your own thoughts and feelings into a story.

    Personally, I find life exciting. That’s just me. Yeah, same old, same old around the house can get very gray sometimes, but there’s something I have to remember: It IS exciting! Who will you meet today? Where are all of these days taking you? I look back and see situations that I would have, at the time, rather died than lived through – but if they hadn’t have happened, there’s things I wouldn’t have been able to do as a result that were another step in a big dream!
    Life’s exciting. Like I said – He’s writing it – it’ll be the best book ever!
    It’s the best drama you could ever dream of being in – because with God’s pen, ANYTHING can happen. ^.^

    Just thought I’d say that! I love you, sis!

  9. Very good post. I must say that I relate to much of it. However, I have found, that as I get out into the real world more, it isn’t as boring as I thought. When one is in a relationship with a God who works in the world, life is never boring! There’s always more to learn. There’s always something to do for the kingdom. And of course, there’s always a new world to discover behind the pages of a good book.

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