I read for escapism. I also play video games, board games, and watch movies for the same thing but seeing as I’m a writer and this is a writing site. . . .
A few close people who are involved in mental health work or studying psychology tell me it’s probably not the best thing, and then I smile, nod, say probably not, and go right back to doing it. Escapism is defined as: the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy. Two points I want to make up front – first, I’d like to remove the word unpleasant from that definition. Life is good. There are bad days and there are good days. Great times and awful times. But overall I am fortunate enough to say that life is good. That doesn’t mean I don’t need a break every once and awhile.
The second thing is how I personally measure the escapism effectiveness of a book. It’s not by how engrossed or obsessed I am while reading it; it’s how difficult it is to let the world go once I’m done and the journey is over (there are television series I have procrastinated finishing because I can’t bear to say goodbye to them, but that’s for another therapist session). If my brain continually returns to the novel and the people and places that exist within its pages days, weeks, or even months in rare occasions, then it aces the Escapism Effectiveness test.
So, the spectrum. Keep in mind that this isn’t a whole look at the quality of a book or short story that I’ve read. It is only one factor adding to how I felt about a piece. A novel could be on the bottom end of escapism spectrum but still be an amazing book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
2. Bare-minimum escapism achieved. No afterthought once the piece was finished.
3. The world was absorbent. The few hours after finishing it, I still thought about a character or two, a particular setting, or something that happened.
5. Following the final page turn comes a momentary reflection. The empty wall stare while everything falls into place and your brain continues to process. Characters exist for a few days after and, if it’s a standalone piece, there exists a desire to return despite not being able to.
7. Questions linger. For days, weeks, or even longer. The world punctured your skull and seeped into the crevices deep inside your brain. The desire to know more, become more embedded in the story burns. Character’s still exist long after the book is finished. The final setting is engraved in your psyche and you wish more than anything you were still there for just a little longer. You miss your friends. Escapism achieved.
It’s been several days, and I still feel the mystery behind famed director Stanislas Cordova—who he is, the truth behind his films, and what was the real cause behind the death of his daughter Ashley.
These are fictional characters that exist inside the world of Night Film, a novel by Marisha Pessl. Escapism achieved. I was recommended the book almost a year ago. Actually, it might be a little over a year at his point. And I finally picked it up and read it. The recommendation was well justified.
Night Film follows Scott McGrath, a disgraced reporter who, after learning of Ashley Cordova’s death, is drawn back into the world of her father. A mysterious director whose films have a cult following that would make Tyler Durden envious. Using mock webpages and news articles strategically inserted into parts of the book, Pessl brings each reader that much further into the investigation, and that much further into the Cordova obsession. God I wish I was still with McGrath. Existing in that world with those characters and the mystery they are attempting to solve.
Night Film, congratulations. You’re a 7 on the Escapism Spectrum. Thank you for one hell of a ride.
We’re a officially a week into NaNoWriMo 2017 and it’s fair to say that I’m doing better than the previous three years I’ve attempted this writing challenge. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an online event where thousands of writers (read: people who can’t get enough self abuse elsewhere) attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This roughly equals out to 1,667 words a day. The idea is to take a blank page and start a new manuscript from scratch. Write with abandon! Turn off the internal editor, chase your coffee with Red Bull, and pretend to remember what sleep feels like. Well, seven days into the process and I wanted to take a break from writing to, well write something different. Maybe my brain actually is turning to mush.
I’ve tried NaNoWriMo three times in the past and each time I didn’t finish. I think, if I remember right, the farthest along I got was 20,000 and change, but I never hit the 50,000 mark. This year, I said that was going to change. It worked out: I finished the third draft of a project and started the next step in the process for that potential novel, and I had a new idea that was ready to go. Except, in my own self-hatred way, I jumped the word count up from 50,000 to 75,000 so I could hopefully have the base for a full-length novel, attached a reward to it (video games yay!), and actually made an outline.
A couple things. As of writing this, I’ve logged 18,017 words for a daily average of just over 3,000. So, in that respect, I’m right on track with where I need to be. In the realm of having a novel written. . . Yeah, no. Now, I’ve written four novels, one of which is published, one is being shopped around, and the other two will never, ever, ever, bloody ever see the light of day. This is the first time I’ve written a full, detailed outline for a project though. And it’s pretty much meant Jack. Just yesterday, one of the major characters switched genders, so there goes that. The person I thought the main character would be closest to is actually turning into a secondary antagonist, and someone I had scripted as a minor, background character is now second in command.
And that’s just the characters.
Last night, I sat down to write and realized the previous ~4,500 words were wrong. That for the story to make sense the main character would have had to react to a situation completely differently. Why am I sharing what a mess this is? (Because I need a break from it) Just kidding. It’s actually because this is some of the most fun I’ve ever had writing and the first time I’ve ever really been able to turn off the internal editor. In previous years, I would have stopped and re-written everything that I know needs to be changed, thus failing NaNo. But because the only goal this year is word count (I will get you Dark Souls III. . . I mean 75,000 words) I made major notes to myself and continued writing as if those changes were already implemented.
It’s chaos but it’s fun. And I’ve been able to keep myself on track this first week by pretty much ignoring my social life. Though last night I did opt for the gym and only got around 1,000 words in but hey, what are you going to do?
Get right back on and keep going. So, I’ll try to check in next week, but till whenever I pull myself out of this project. . . Cheers.
Well, there's quite the dramatic difference between the two articles, but hey. The Neighbors Paper a local paper in Northeastern Connecticut threw in a spot for Jack Be Quick and it looks great! Never thought I'd see something in print like this.
I keep finding myself saying I never thought I'd . . . and despite the repetitiveness of it, it's true. There's been so many firsts while going through this whole process that I still don't believe it. In a week Jack will be on shelves. . . Well, I just tucked my copy away on my own shelf, right between Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan and a faded antique copy of Alice in Wonderland.
So what next? The book comes out next Tuesday and the launch party is next Thursday so there's always that. But more than those two big events . . . What's next? Will reviews come in? If they do will they be favorable? Will I see it on shelves in local bookstores (cheating here but I know of a few where it will be), but the point is that I have no idea what's next and I think I'm more excited about that than anything else. It probably goes right along with my infatuation with traveling. A true love of the unknown. I mean, what's the worst that could happen right?
No matter what does happen next week and the weeks and months after it's been a hell of a lot of fun. Thanks for taking the ride with me. Hopefully we get to do this again down the road.