I had an epiphany today, as I wrestled with a real-life problem that keeps recurring, doubtless because I find it easier to put a band-aid over it than perform the surgical excision that is probably necessary.
Writing life is better than real life. Why? Easy. Because I have complete and total control over the universe I’ve created. Oh sure, my characters have some say, but in the end my rule is absolute. And that is so unlike real life.
In real life, I have lots of observations, insights, advice and judgments that are met with indifference, hostility, contentious argument or worst of all, simply ignored. Even though I know if I could just direct the lives of everyone I love we would all be happier, healthier and safer.
In writing life, whatever I say goes. Rain may fall on the just and unjust alike, but as a writer I can make it a warm spring mist or a raging mid-summer thunderstorm. Sad and bad things happen, but I choose what those things are, and when they occur and to whom.
In real life, random events befall people I care about and the solutions are hard or scary or sometimes non-existent.
In writing life, time moves at the speed I choose. It doesn’t hold me green and dying. I hold time in my grasp and slow it down or speed it up as it suits me. I can make the happiest moments longer and the saddest moments shorter.
In real life, time moves at breakneck speed. It doesn’t wait for me to do the things I always meant to do. Important words are left unspoken, wounds unhealed, justice undelivered, satisfaction withheld.
In writing life, people come together or apart as I like. It’s my choice whether or not a problem is solved, or a relationship is severed or repaired.
In real life, people may drift or be driven away. My best efforts can’t always hold close those I hold most dear. In writing life I only have to let go of people when I’m ready to face the loss. I can save anyone I choose and comfort all who need it.
Real life requires courage, endurance, acceptance. Writing life requires only imagination – and the ability to stare for long periods of time at a blank computer screen.
There is truth, I know, in the contention that real life’s unexpected turns and harsh demands, as well as its sweet moments of connection, are the very things we need to become fully actualized human beings. Still, there are many days when I do believe, despite any accidental personal growth or incidental wisdom I may have acquired, that writing life is better.