Throughout my life, writing has saved my sanity-- and quite possibly my life. In times of extreme stress, hardship, physical and mental anguish, or when it just flat seemed like nothing would ever go right again, I always knew my keyboard and notebooks would be waiting. I could pour my heart out into a journal or a Word document and at least get some of the poison out.
Writing, of course, was also a way to escape reality. I could invent demons that could actually be slayed, battles that could actually be won, entire worlds where things happen the way I want them to.
If you’re a writer, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, my life is not one that requires a lot of venting or escapism these days. Which is okay, because that leaves writing as a time of simple, unbridled happiness.
But if you’re a writer, then your first love was probably the same as mine-- reading. Books. The places and characters we can visit time and again. (I know I do.) Mid-World, Hogwarts, Watership Down-- too many places to name, too many friends to count. All escapist destinations of the first order.
I mentioned in a previous blog post I’ve gone back to a traditional job, and I like it. But I don’t like the commute. I hate driving—always have, always will. And while I know some people commute much farther than I do, (my commute is only 40-60 minutes long depending on traffic), it’s longer than I’ve ever driven before, and it was causing me a great deal of anxiety. I would arrive either at the office or back at home every day, sweaty, shaky, teary-eyed, on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.
A friend very sensibly pointed out that I should listen to books on tape. So I got an Audible account.
You guys. It. Is. Awesome.
Browsing the Audible site, I was immediately beguiled. Reese Witherspoon reading Go Set a Watchman? Colin Firth reading The End of the Affair? Alan Cumming reading Hamlet? Yes, please.
It’s funny, I never thought I would enjoy listening to audio books. I like to read, I like the action of reading. Listening to books is a very different experience. It's engaging different parts of my brain. I feel like it’s making me a better listener, and I'm giving books I would not have otherwise read more of a chance.
My first book is Neil Gaiman’s new collection of short stories, Trigger Warning, read in the man himself’s silky tones. Where I used to dread getting into my car, now I look forward to it.
So I don't know why I'm so surprised that once again, literature has enriched my life in such a big way. I guess it's just nice to find that something you've loved for so long can still surprise you.