“Growing up is so overrated. Just be an author.” –British writer Neil Gaiman.
Yeah. When I read that I realized that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy writing. It’s like playing make believe when you were a kid. My friends and I used to run around with our plastic helmets and guns and be World War Two soldiers. Or shoot each other down with our toy planes while screaming loud airplane engine sounds and spitting as we made machine gun noises.
I remember that after we all went to see the movie, ‘The Lost World,’ we were soon hunting dinosaurs.
I don’t have any toy guns, anymore. Or toy airplanes. And I guess I’d look just a little ridiculous running around the house with a plastic helmet sitting on my head. Although, it probably wouldn’t surprise my wife. But I don’t have to run around the house doing it. I have a laptop and Microsoft Word. Those are my toys!
When I sit down and write I can be anything and anybody I want to be. I can put myself anywhere in the world and stick myself into any situation that I can think of. And I have. England in the late 1800’s when Jack the Ripper was terrorizing London. I’ve been a Sioux warrior at Custer’s Last Stand. I’ve been in dogfights over the trenches of World War One France. I’ve been an American soldier in North Africa in 1943 and I’ve been a 1920’s barnstorming aviator.
I can make-believe all I want and not look ridiculous. I can be a hero or a villain. Hell, I can even see what it feels like being a woman. Don’t worry. I’m not changing my name to Josephine or Caitlyn any time soon. But when I write, I can do it and not have to painfully remove any body parts.
I can also move my characters around as though they were toy people. Admittedly, they don’t like it sometimes and will argue with me. Sometimes they win.
And just like when I used to play with my toy soldiers, I get to decide who lives and who dies. Again, arguments. I’ve lost these, too, on occasion. At least my toys didn’t talk back to me.
But still, it’s fun. We used to create our own little worlds with plastic. Now I do it with words. So, yeah. He’s right. If you don’t want to grow up and you want to keep playing make-believe, then write!
Some old habits are hard to break, though. When I write those World War One dogfight scenes, I often find myself needing to wipe the spit from the machine gun sounds off of my laptop screen.