Writer’s Craft # 116 Reality Trap

Jennifer Lott
Jennifer Lott, YA author

Jennifer Lott has appeared in print in Neo-Opsis Magazine (“A Day in the Life”; Issue 18; December 17, 2009) and the Opus 5 Okal Rel anthology (“Pet Peeves”, Absolute XPress, 2011). Her first public foray into writing is her popular fan fiction Alternative Ending to the Animorphs, which was well received by readers disappointed by the dark turn taken by this young adult series in its final installments. An early childhood educator, Jennifer writes mostly for children and young adults. You can find out more about her works at jenniferlott.com

Ever catch your rich imaginary life tipping you towards a mope over the real world? Simply because it is the real world? I have decided that when my fantasy writing isn’t a wonderful, liberating experience (and thankfully it is this most of the time), it is an excuse to mope: my life is too ordinary, my life will never be this exciting, etc.

When I was a tween reader of fantasy and sci-fi, I remember having the occasional moment of ludicrous envy. I would feel deprived because I knew I could never have super powers, or a magical place to live. If the moment turned into a bad mood, I would then feel stupid for feeling bad, which really didn’t help.

For the most part, I think becoming a fantasy writer cured me of feeling ordinary. Creating fantastical worlds for the page is as good as a super power – especially when you can project those worlds into someone else’s mind! But on a Friday of all days, I caught the mood again. My day started with ants in my office, had some day job in the middle, and then a typical evening watching Star Trek with my husband. At the end of the day, with an hour before me on the laptop, it was time for me to at least daydream about what’s happening in my novel series. I moped around the living room instead. Couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was moping, so I went for a walk in the cool night air where I could focus on thoughts (and not on mopey things like my husband’s cold, or where I should spray more ant poison).

On my walk, I thought about how my days all felt the same and how I had to go to bed soon and start a typical Saturday working at a drug store, and how it was all very dull and I had every right to mope. Because I’m not supposed to be ordinary! My life should be a thrilling adventure, whine, pout… Wow, I thought I bypassed the reality trap years ago. If life isn’t extraordinary enough for you, you just write like it is and you feel better; I taught myself that. One of the “me” voices in my head reminded me, but I still couldn’t summon all the fictional voices that tell me what’s about to happen in my novel series.

I heard once that writer’s block is a myth: you can always write something if you set your mind to it. So I wrote this. What do you do when you can’t escape the mundane? I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

2 thoughts on “Writer’s Craft # 116 Reality Trap

  1. I reckon you’ve hit the nail on the head. When stuck, write. Anything. But probably not on the piece the stuck-ness is attached to.

    … and to escape the mundane, I do something physical, and not household chores! A bike ride, (bicycle or motor) a walk, or sitting in the back yard soaking up some of this magnificent, and fleeting, spring sunshine. Craft projects are good because they occupy the hands and require, in general, only a light concentration.

  2. My father used to say: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I never understood how the word ‘most’ could apply until I was about 50. My way of coping is to keep flying until I’m through the rough spot. I even made an Okal Rel post card with help from Richard Bartrop, the artist. It shows a rel-ship landing and says “Rel Pilots Make Dock”. Sometimes all you can do is keep going and make dock. Other days — magic. http://okalrel.org/saga/reference/graphics/MakeDockByBartrop.html

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