It’s about Power.
As a writer of fiction, I can create a city, a village, a country, a world. I can fill it with characters that I love or love to hate. I can imbue them with a certain amount of free will and, if I don’t like how they use it, I have the power of the eraser or delete key. The characters I create may be human or they may be animals, even mechanical beings, or a combination of these. I can ride down a country road feeling the fluid strength of the steed beneath me, enjoying the bucolic scene of field and meadow, knowing that around the next bend there is a plot twist that will change my story, transform the world. I can change the weather from stormy to sunny and back again. In short, I am god. I can wander through forests of words and chop down the one I want to take to a sentence I’m constructing. I can plunge into oceans of emotions to catch the one that will give my character motivation to propel the story forward.
Similarly, when I write memoir or creative non-fiction, I take an event from the headlines or from memory and, while sticking to the reality of it, invent or reimagine dialogue I did not hear or do not remember. I give the incident a spin to emphasize the part I think is important or transformative. It is my story told my way. This kind of writing does require research to authenticate it. I enjoy research because it opens the discovery of things I did not know and enriches knowledge that I then mine for other stories. I prefer fiction and poetry because I am not bounded by facts, annoying facts that constrict my imagination.
Writing is an inexpensive form of entertainment and also therapy. The cost of a pencil and paper can set me up for hours and hours of diversion. I disappear into a world I create. Sometimes it is hard for me to resurface, to attend to my daily tasks and the real-life characters, human and animal, who live with me. I am glassy-eyed and slightly incoherent for a time when I leave my writing desk depending on how long I have been immersed in writing. My dear husband can attest to the state of suspended animation that surrounds me. I gave up the idea of writing the great American novel by the time I was thirty. I write for myself because I love to play god.