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Maybe escapism isn’t such a bad thing.

Maybe escapism isn’t such a bad thing.

I just read the news. That was my first mistake of the morning.

It broke the trance of my worlds–both my own reality and the glorious fantasy of writing a novel.

It’s 7:00 AM and I’m in Rotterdam sitting in my hotel enjoying the early light and the rain. I did my 30-minute meditation in front of the window while my just-turned-13-year old son sleeps in the bed behind me (we’re on a father-son birthday weekend away). My first thought as I re-opened my eyes was to go work on the fiction novel started just a few days ago. But I had one disastrous detour: I glanced at the news. Here was the headline:

Republicans are now vowing Total War. And the consequences could be immense.

I’m not even going to link to it because I don’t want you to have to read it. I already regret reading it. Here’s my Sunday morning solution to world politics: get lost in escape.

I know, I know, I’m just an ostrich and burying my head in the sand and avoiding the real issues at hand. I’m currently listening to The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living. One of the foundations of stoicism is, in my own words, to not worry about things that you have no influence over. For example, don’t get yourself into a huff because it’s raining. Don’t fret that your brother-in-law’s neighbor is a two-timing loser who’s heading down the tubes.

What parts of your life can you influence? What do you have some control over?

I can help my fictional character make this month in Paris one to remember. He can help me unleash my creative flow and bring a character into this world that might inspire someone to be someone they wanted to be or at the very least provide some entertainment for someone who might just never get to Paris–or might never be 27 again.

Am I avoiding reality? Should I really just pretend that the rest of the world isn’t in shambles and I should carry on with my hero and his fictional world? I hear him whisper in my ear, “What are you talking about, fictional world?”

Is escape truly such a bad thing? What if there is a 27-year old young man who reads about the novel’s adventures in Paris and it changes his path? Maybe he doesn’t go to Paris in November on a whim to write a book with a complete stranger, but if it alters his life’s trajectory just one iota then is my escapism validated?

What about the part where I just admit flat out that I can’t not tell stories. That writing for me is like fish food and that I can’t stop it even if I wanted to–even though I might explode if you let me write without limits. I get involved in the story after just a few paragraphs. I can completely understand addiction! Characters start to take shape and I soon sit back and wonder what they’re going to do or say next and then I’m surprised at what they do and say! Is that not pure joy?

It’s creation at its best. I’m taking nothing and turning it into something–or someone. But then the best part? That someone gives back. That something turns into its own thing and gives me life.

Now, I need to get back to my character and help him find the courage to meet that girl for the first time.

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