Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Over The Edge?

by Kristine Coblitz

People today are unhappy. And who can blame us? We live in a world in turmoil, the cost of living is on the rise while our paychecks are getting smaller, and we’re stressed, tired, and overweight. I read an article online recently that stated that antidepressants currently are the most prescribed drugs in the U.S. and that 25 percent of the population is expected to have a breakdown at some point.

No wonder people look for ways to escape reality. They turn to movies and books, sometimes even other addictions. As writers, it’s our job to provide entertainment, and we do so by putting our fictional characters in heaps of trouble. We pile the stress on our characters so our readers can worry about them. We end books with satisfactory endings that don’t usually happen in real life. For just a few hours, our readers can forget about their own problems and read about someone else’s (bigger) problems.

To pull this off, we as writers have to dig into our own deepest fears. Everything that happens to our characters on the page in essence happens to us in our own minds. We create these situations, after all, and in order to make them realistic, we’ve got to experience them.

As writers, are we destined to be depressed? Is it because we spend so much time “in our heads” thinking about murder and crime? Are we unable to separate our fictional lives from our personal ones? Are depression and anxiety occupational hazards?

It makes you wonder. Sometimes I wish I wrote happier stories, but then again, to not write crime fiction is denying my real passion.

If you ask me, I’m grateful for books and those little escapes I can take from reality. When I need a break from it all, I find a quiet place and read.

I try to keep that in mind when I write. I’m not just providing entertainment and thrills, but an escape for my readers. And for myself, I guess.

How do you escape reality and get away from it all?


Gina said...

My favorite escape is sleep. Dreaming can be more entertaining as reading.

Annette said...

For me, writing IS my escape. I create a make-believe world that I enjoy visiting and to there to hide from the stuff going on in my real life.

Tory said...

I think writing helps cure depression, not create it. Depression is about giving up on some aspect of life. Crime fiction is about writing wrongs and creating a situation where justice prevails. Bad events don't create depression. People's REACTIONS to bad events create depression.

Yes, I feel bad for people who are depressed. But I don't help them by trying to take away the challenging aspects of their lives. I try to help them by teaching them how to DEAL with the challenging aspects of their lives in new, more creative ways.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts! As with Annette, my escape is my writing, too, in addition to reading. Sometimes I do have to switch gears and write something a little less intense, though.

Lee Lofland said...

I play guitar and my mood determines what kind of music I play at any given time. I tend to lean toward Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton when I'm just taking a break from writing.

AC/DC or Led Zepplin come into the mix when I'm a little angry. When all is well I play a little jazz.

Today is a jazz day and I think I'll take a break and head over to my music room now...

Annette said...

Reading is definitely an escape, too. Plus I find myself doing so much other writing (blogs, non-fiction, short stories, etc) that it's a relief to get back to the manuscript.

And there's always the therapeutic aspect of taking out our day-to-day frustrations by torturing our characters!

Joyce said...

There's nothing better than escaping into a book--whether it's reading or writing. Sometimes it's so good, it's hard to come back to reality.

Lee, that's cool that you play guitar, although we might have to talk about your taste in music. I used to play years ago, now my guitar just hangs on a wall. My older son plays guitar and the younger one plays piano.

Lee Lofland said...

Oh, my taste in music varies. More than you'd think. About the only thing I don't listen to is rap, most hip hop, and opera.

I'm weird (keep your comments to yourself, Joyce). I like anything from classical to Louis Armstrong to Rush. Right now I'm listening to the oldies on the radio.

Under the boardwalk...

Joyce said...

Lee, I always listen to the oldies station. My favorite is "the 70's at 7." Where else can you hear meaningful songs like "Blinded by the Light," or dare I say it "Convoy"?

But I was a little annoyed when the same station played a U2 song the other day. That's NOT an oldie.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I forgot about music! That's one of my other passions--listening to it not actually playing it. I have a wide collection of CDs that reflect my various moods.