My Love Affair With Fiction

Pawn_of_ProphecyI’d love to say I started reading from an early age, with books being such an integral part of my childhood, I wouldn’t know where I’d be without them. But that isn’t entirely true. I have no fond memories of my parents reading me bedtime stories, though I am assured they did.

My first memory of being so drawn in to a fictional place that I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to come out wasn’t until I was thirteen or so. It was thanks to a friend I had made at secondary school called Helen. She brought me in a copy of The Pawn of Prophecy by David and Leigh Eddings. I’d never read a fantasy novel before, outside of the bog standard fairy tales and Disney stories. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, the words on the first page glared out of me, intimidating. It seemed impossible to read that much, the text so small and blanketed, barely split into paragraphs to my eyes. 

But two weeks later I was finishing the sixth book in the series, and Helen and I had an entire world to discuss while everyone else was talking about our new maths teacher.

Somehow, the words had become pictures in my mind as I’d read them, forming people and places like nothing I’d ever seen. But I must have, for them to be so clear in my head. I’d later learn that this ability writers have to take images straight out of their own heads and place them on a page ready for someone else to pick up, is a hard learned one.

Suddenly the fact that I was fast becoming some dull awkward teenager didn’t matter as much, because in my head I could be as many different characters as I wanted. It sparked my imagination and I’m ever grateful to the Eddings’ for introducing me to it.

From there it was a simple jump to Tolkien, Pratchett and Irvine, and I’ve been travelling to fictional worlds through the pages of fictional works ever since.

My tastes have widened a lot since then, science fiction becoming a staple in my reading since I discovered my great love of writing it. Crime and investigative fiction, surrealism and dystopia have all allowed me the great escape that I crave from my still, sadly, rather dull everyday existence.

When friends tell me, sometimes flippantly, that they don’t read I always feel a strange urge to shake them. But I know that not everyone feels the same need to escape into fiction as I do, and that is a very good thing.

5 thoughts on “My Love Affair With Fiction

  1. Much of this post resonated with me a lot. Recently, life has been drowning me in worry and unwelcome thoughts, and immersing myself in fictional worlds* has really helped to lessen the blows (or “stem the tide”, to continue the water metaphor).

    It’s also been a great help to my writing, which I’ve resumed (your blog is partly to thank for that, by the way – it made me actually think about things rather than telling myself “nah I’ll write it later”. I might have to “repay” you by getting you to beta-read something of mine, if you’re interested).

    *That said, if the world exists in the minds of readers, is it still “fictional”? Oh the conundrums.

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    • I rely on escapism probably far more then I should, but it’s a habit I don’t really want to give up!

      It’s great that you’re writing again, and of course I’d love to read things over for you. Anytime, just send me an email! And in return, people looking at this post (like yourself) and replying to these thoughts in my head are the reason I’ve gotten back the confidence I’d lost after not writing for five years, so thank you. :)

      And discussing fine line between fiction and reality is one you should have over vodka, I think.

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  2. There’s nothing like a good bit of escapism. As long as you don’t “escape” from things like food or breathing, that is. But then again, a book so good that you forget to breath would probably be so amazing that it’d be worth risking it.

    The story that I’ll send to you hasn’t actually been written yet (my current WIP is a novel and the second draft is months away), but now that I know you’d read it, I’ll be more likely to actually begin =P

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  3. David and Leigh Eddings have to be one of my favorites!!! I Read Polgara in high school or something like that and totally fell in love with sci-fi. That wasn’t what I had gotten my start in reading by any means, I grew up in the library, read most of it before I was even done with high school, they had to order in books from other libraries for me. But… that first taste of sci-fi was an amazing thing for me!!! They have a real talent for drawing you into a whole different world!

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    • The Redemption of Althalus was my absolute favourite of theirs, it’s a book I could read over and over on a desert island somewhere.

      The librarian at my high school used to recommend books to me by my final year, she loved fantasy as much as I did I think. The idea that there might not be many libraries makes me really sad sometimes, though I love my kindle to bits as well of course.

      And am so with you on that last bit as well. Genre fiction all the way! I know all about this world, I want to explore another one please. :D

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