Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Losing Yourself

As is true with all writers I know, I LOVE to read.  It's such a wonderful way to escape this world and delve into another.  The only problem is that I don't always want to come out of that world until I've finished with the book.

This is truer with some authors than others for me.  I'm currently reading a Nora Roberts book, and I find myself so engrossed in the story she's woven, that I feel a little angry when I have to put the book down and deal with the "real" world.  The same thing happens when I read any of her books (even those under the JD Robb moniker), or James Patterson.  And the closer I get to the conclusion of the story, the more I dislike interruptions when I'm reading.

Sometimes I've found myself escaping into a story so much, that it affects my personal life.  I remember reading some books from VC Andrews' Flowers in the Attic series.  The writing was captivating, but by the third or fourth book, I found that the emotional roller coaster I was on while engrossed in the books, actually followed me back into the real world.  I noticed myself getting depressed even when I wasn’t reading, and eventually had to stop reading those books, in order to keep my sanity.

In the movie, The Neverending Story, Bastien is an avid reader, too.  When he's caught hiding out in a bookstore, the owner says that the books Bastien chooses to read are safe, because he's able to be Tarzan, or Robinson Crusoe, but then he can come back to his normal life when finished.  The owner then indicates that the book he's reading isn't like the other ones that Bastien knows.  This intrigues Bastien (which I think is the intent), causing him to take the book and spend the rest of the day engrossed in the story therein, ultimately realizing that he's living The Neverending Story.  (For those who don't know this story, check it out.  The movie is good, but the book is better.)

As much as I dislike interruptions when I’m reading, I don’t know how comfortable I’d be literally living whatever book I’m reading.  I think I prefer the safety of being able to come out of it and back to my own life . . . at least, when I'm ready to come back.  It might be thrilling to travel the world in a hot air balloon, or go after a serial killer, but I don’t know that I have the temperament necessary to live with that much stress on a daily basis.

How about you?  Is there a story you’d want to actually “live” if you could?


  1. Nice blog, Alyx! I loved The Neverending Story. It was a great representation of the act of reading and being transported by what you read.

  2. Reading can transport us to times and places we wouldn't survive in real life and then we arrive safely home at the end, With a really good book I will sometimes interrupt my reading to do mundane chores and stretch out the experience as long as possible.

  3. I haven't read The Neverending Story. I'll have to put it on my list of books to read. I used to drive my mom crazy - or my kids - with the "just a minute" comment over and over while I was reading and they wanted something. I still hate to put a good book down, but I'm better at doing that now since I save my books for the hours before bed. Of course, then I have another book beside the bed that I read until I start to fall asleep.

    I once heard that Janet Evanovich doesn't want to read because she's afraid somehow she might pick up something that would change her style. Those aren't exactly the words, but you get the idea. For me, I think reading helps my writing.

  4. Gloria, I think you have to have found your voice in writing and then you can read a wide variety of books without affecting it. I don't know what would happen if you read a lot of the same author, though, but that's unlikely.

  5. No, I'd never want to really live in fiction. But, that quality of losing yourself means total absorption in the present and in what you are doing. I think that it's the best use of your time on the planet. If something captivates, it is worth your time. And that is why I write. When I'm writing, I'm totally focused in my story, not the here and now. I can start writing and hours will pass without my notice.

  6. First off, my apologies to all for not responding yesterday. Things were too crazy at my day-job, & I barely had time to use the facilities. It's still crazy, but less so than yesterday.

    And responses...

    Yes, Linda, I thought it was cool how The Neverending Story took the concept of really being part of what you read & ran with it. Gloria, DEFINITELY put it on your "to read" list. The movie is cute, but the book told SO much more; as they generally do. Plus, I like how each chapter started with the next letter of the alphabet. It became fun to see what word the author would use to start the next chapter.

    That's interesting that you like to prolong the experience, Warren. You're probably also someone who likes to make several stops along the way during a road trip, just seeing the sights & whathaveyou. That sounds very leisurely. :o)

    I agree with you, Gloria, that reading helps the writing. I can see Janet's fear, though. I would worry about taking on another author's voice, but my reading comprehension is pretty crappy, so I think I'm safe. ;o)

    That's SO cool that you're that focused when you write, EB. I can get engrossed enough that I spend a few hours writing, but not so much that I actually lose track of time. I'm one of those writers who writes something for a while, then plays with her hair (or fingers, or pen) for a while until an idea forms more fully.

    Thanks to all for commenting yesterday. My apologies again, & hopefully I'll be able to be more on the ball next time.