My reality is pretty great. I don't need to escape it. I like to draw from it for both my fiction and nonfiction. But the really cool thing is when I can make fiction from my reality. Drawing from my reality for nonfiction is just talking about my day. It's not that remarkable.
But fiction is where I get to pick and choose bits of my reality and other people’s reality and a bunch of crazy elements that were never reality, and I weave them together for something so much more complex and beautiful.
For example, I could talk about writing like this:
“I am a writer. I write. It’s what I do. I breathe life into the page. I terrorize English teachers with my wild first drafts. I plot and outline and organize so much, but when it comes down to it, I just love the words. It’s magical to watch the words in my head become words on the page.”
Or I could write a fictional story about a writer. Here’s an excerpt:
“No place like home,” I sighed. The day had been long.
I got out my writing utensils (that is, my laptop) and typed up an entry in my private online diary, which they call a blog these days. Except mine was a private blog.
Ah. I wiggled my feet out of my shoes and socks.
I tied my brown hair up in a bun.
Wow. Had it been that long?
Nothing made sense during the day until this moment when I unburied the thoughts and feelings I felt in the deepest part of me. I poured out my soul onto the glitch screen. Line after line. Paragraph after paragraph. Esther really had hurt me. And I had so many feelings.
Why do we have to have feelings? Why do they hurt so much? It’s not lovely to be human. I’d rather be a god or a unicorn or something. Fly away as a pterodactyl on a cloud of gold. Sail down the Amazon River with natives.
Nothing could keep me sane as I clicked away at the keys.
Which is more powerful? I like the fiction better. You can throw random things into it (ie. pterodactyls, unicorns, Amazon natives) and it makes sense. Because people and plots and prose are powerful and confusing and complicated.
You don’t get that from an essay.