Two Worlds at One Time: The Writer’s Life
A Guest Blog by David-Matthew Barnes
An undergraduate writing student of mine summed up the joys of reading when he defined the experience as "living in two worlds at one time."
I couldn't agree more. Good writing moves you. Great writing transports you.
I was once asked, "Have you ever been to Bath, England?"
I responded with, "Yes...once...in a Jane Austen novel."
A good novel should do just that: allow us to travel the globe without once stepping foot outside of our home, office, library, coffee shop, or wherever our favorite place to read is.
Novelist and essayist William Styron once said about reading, “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
But can't the same be said for the writer? The duality my student recognized as a reader is similar to the double existence we live each day as writers, culling through our own experiences (imagined and real), sifting through research to make our words more authentic, managing a day job vs. a creative one, and politely ignoring the always-present response when we've told someone we've just met that we're a writer: "Have you written anything I would've heard of?"
While we are busy creating on page those literary landscapes we whisk our readers away to, we are balancing two worlds - the one in which our characters exist and the other we draw daily inspiration from - our own. When we sit down at the computer and begin to tell a story, aren't we in fact living in two worlds at one time? Perhaps the allure for writing begins with the desire to "leave behind" our current life and slip into someone else's.
So often I have heard writers talk about "the zone" - that high peak of creativity that is so momentous, nothing else seems to matter or even register except for the words that our traveling from our imaginations, through our fingertips, and onto the page where, hopefully, they are later discovered by a reader who feels the same sense of rapture. I wonder if this state of intense creation is the fine line between the two worlds. When we stand (or dance) on it, are we straddling the very thing that separates fiction from truth?
As writers, we don't just travel vicariously through the lives of our characters. Certainly by living the life of a published writer, I have been given the opportunity to travel extensively. I am amazed by the random, wonderful places my writing has allowed me to go. From Amelia Island, Florida to Altoona, Pennsylvania to Palm Springs, California - I have met readers, signed books, and instructed writing workshops in more cities and towns than I could have ever dreamed of. Each of those journeys have inspired and impacted my writing, giving me personal insight into otherwise unexplored territories. Each time I find myself in a new environment, I can't help but observe my surroundings of this "new world" with a writer's eye, knowing that later I might chose to recreate it for my readers - knowing they will be experiencing a sense of place through me and my words.
In my novels, I take my readers all around the world: from the streets of London to a Greek island, from the suburbs of Chicago to a seaside town in Belgium, from a prestigious music conservatory to a fairy tale village in Germany. I want every reader who picks up one of my novels to feel as if they have lived those "several lives" Styron talked about, that they saw the world without ever leaving the comfort of their bedroom.
Two worlds at one time. The phrase itself can have many meanings. For my undergraduate writing student it sums up the incredible experience he looks forward to as a reader. For us writers, it means the tough balancing act we must master in order to succeed - our creative life and our daily routine, the sometimes blurred line we teeter on between the real and the imagined.
Find David Matthew Barnes Online
Stronger Than This
by David Matthew Barnes
Genre: Literary Fiction/LGBT/Death/Dying/Grief
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publication Date: February 18, 2014
Charlene’s soul mate, Samantha, has been killed in a car accident. Daniel’s partner, Martin, has been murdered in a robbery gone wrong. Seeking comfort, Charlene and Daniel attend a support group where they meet for the first time.
Emotionally devastated and discarded by their loved ones’ conservative families, Charlene and Daniel feel an immediate connection. Rather than reveal their pain to a room full of strangers, they decide to see each other through their shared anguish.
As a beautiful friendship emerges from grief, slivers of new hope are found.
Tour Wide Giveaway:
10 eBooks (in PDF format)
2 autographed paperback copies
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