The Magic of Fiction
(Eliza Knight, today's guest blogger, is our chat guest on December 5. Remember, comments are very welcome!)
I want to thank The Writer’s Chatroom for inviting me to blog with you today, and to visit your chatroom on Sunday, Dec. 5th. I’m really looking forward to talking with all of you about writing, reading, and my own tales. I write romance, time travel and historical fiction. I love to create worlds and I like to think I specialize in escapism. When I was thinking about what to write today, I kept coming back to one thing—how much fiction is and isn’t a part of our lives.
When we are younger we are taught to read. We sit on the circle carpet in the classroom and listen to the teacher or librarian read us stories. Our teachers ask us questions about the stories, we learn how to make a plot web, characterization charts, and write our own stories. So much energy is put into creating fictional stories and reading fiction when we are younger, and then it slowly fades away.
We enter high school where reading the classics and poetry is in the curriculum, but more emphasis is placed on research papers and essays and dissecting the creative works of great literary talents. And I truly mean dissecting. We aren’t able to enjoy the pieces because we’re too busy tearing them apart. I didn’t LOVE reading Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, until a few years ago when I picked it up and just read it. I didn’t dissect, just enjoyed it.
The same goes when we enter college and take the core classes, lots of papers to right, lots of reading—but textbooks, resources, journals, etc… The enjoyment of reading is somehow lost.
When we finally graduate from college, our reading consists of work related items, and then because we’ve spent the whole day staring at a computer, journal, reports, etc… we veg out in front of the television.
What happens to the magic of fiction as we grow up? How is it some people retain the essence that is exploring a fictional world and some people do not?
I have three young children myself. They love to read. We take weekly (sometimes more than once a week) trips to the library. We create stories. I’ve read to them since they were infants. My husband loves to read, and obviously I do too. But I hadn’t realized until speaking with a friend the other day that this—children reading—isn’t the norm. Not all children love to read. My friend asked me, “How do you get your kids to love reading?” I stared at her blankly because it had never been any other way. I didn’t try to make them like it, it just is.
But what’s the difference?
I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always loved to write. And there have been times (see the college experience and day job experience above…) where I’ve not been able to read too much fiction, but I’ve always been drawn back to it. Since my husband is also a natural reader, is that why our children love to read? Because it is inherent in our house which is filled with close to a thousand books? Is it genetic? My parents love to read. And come to think of it, my husband’s parents also read.
Fiction is magical, it is escapism, it is world-building. When we read we imagine ourselves in the book, we imagine going through what the characters go through. We make a connection. We enjoy the journey. We like to see good triumph evil. We like to see people happy. A problem solved. A good scare. The genre you read doesn’t matter—but the act of doing so gives you satisfaction. We learn from reading—whether we realize it or not. There are several studies that have proven mental stimulation (reading, games, crosswords, researching, etc…) boosts brain power.
So if reading is good for us, makes us smarter, gives us pleasure, takes us away to another world—the world the author has created—why don’t more people do it?
Why do you enjoy reading fiction?