I’m kind of an anxious person. It’s not a disorder or anything, it doesn’t set me apart from anyone else who worries, but it’s something that I do try to deal with in regards to my work. Life just feels like it’s going to wash me away if I can’t find my balance.
I had an epiphany just now, as I watched an episode of something (it doesn’t matter what). Namely, that I wasn’t worried. I was still thinking. It wasn’t like my brain was unengaged with what I was doing. There was analysis going on, and critique, and enjoyment. I just wasn’t thinking about my own problems.
Stories can be catharsis, as we all know. We cry over deaths, rejoice over victories, feel relief when the main character makes it through a tight spot. We even worry when things get tough, and grieve when bad things happen that can’t be fixed. Not every story has to have a happy ending, after all.
But all that doesn’t let me worry about myself. I can be totally engaged in a story that reminds me a little of my current situation, but I don’t think about the fact that my mom’s sick. I think about the heroine’s struggle with caring for her own sick parent while juggling choir practice and a distant boyfriend. It doesn’t even have to be a worse situation than my own (although a little “it could always be worse” doesn’t hurt). It just has to distract me from running through all the horrible and real things that could happen.
(Disclaimer: my mom is fine. This is just an example)
Stories don’t let me worry. They can inspire me, give me ideas how to deal with what’s at hand, but when I’m fully in a story I’m not letting my problems twist me into knots.
This is what I want to do, as a writer. Perhaps inspire, instruct, or enlighten, but what I really want is to transport, comfort, and lighten burdens. To offer a temporary escape when reality threatens to crush someone down.
What do you want out of your writing?