Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why I Write... A Ticket to Anywhere

Why, indeed. I could say that I do it because I'm an a English teacher, but that would be waaaaaay too easy (although why I write is certainly tied to my broader appreciation of reading and the written word).

I tend to write mythic fantasy. It's what I've been drawn to my whole literary life, ever since I can recall opening a book. I used to read the entire collection of Junior Encyclopedias I had (usually under the blanket with a flashlight), and I'd reread the sections that had anything to do with mythology, folklore, magic, mysticism, science fiction, or anything else that fit. I write THIS because it speaks to me, to my soul, to my sensibilities, to my raison d'ĂȘtre.

Why does it resonate with me? Escape. In a nutshell, I grew up a child of divorce, and when I wanted to leave the tumultuous world of parental drama, emotional upheaval, and being burdened by confusion, I would escape into a book. The furthest thing from my world was a fantasy one. Learning about mythology led me to comic books (endless joy can be found in a stack of comics!). Who needed Narnia? I had my own world to which I could go whenever I wanted to. I yearned for power: power over my self, power over my parents, power over the umbrella of shame and stomach-twisting nausea I'd experience. Being the eldest of three kids, two of whom came from the same father (the one my mother divorced), put a lot of pressure on me to be better. To be the best. A lot. In Gotham City, or Metropolis, or Paradise Island, I could be with my heroes. In Ancient Greece, I could adventure with Perseus or Heracles. They didn't judge me. They didn't preach. They didn't manipulate. They let me be me.

I learned I could tell stories. Well, I liked to lie as a child, that helped. If I couldn't handle my reality, I'd change it. But, as I matured, I found I had a desire to put words on the page, words that could evoke emotion from those who read my stories. I loved vocabulary, so I used new words whenever I could! Man, talk about power! I could entertain people.

Fictional characters influenced me, and I felt magnetized by the text. Comics held the largest sway for a while, and Wonder Woman became a role model. Why not? She was strong, capable, wise, compassionate... things I needed to see. My mother embodies those things as well, and I had much more of an affinity for her company than that of my paternal figures. A strong woman in my life translated to a strong woman in my books. (Ironically enough, my desire for this powerful feminine figure didn't amount to anything more than platonic relationships--I'm gay, after all).

While I don't need escape as much or for the same reasons anymore, it's certainly comforting to know that I can lose myself in literature. My proverbial passport is always stamped and ready to go. I'm a traveler. I write to travel, and I can take you anywhere you want to go.

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