“Are you working through lunch again?” the man asked as I pulled out my notebook.
“Yeah, but this is fun work,” I replied, smiling. I plopped the MS for The Lokana Chronicles down on the table.
He bent closer to inspect the title page. “What’s this? A novel?”
“Yep. And here’s the sequel,” I said, removing the MS for Remnants from my purse. It hit the table with a thud.
He took another look. “You wrote these?”
My waitress joined us. “You’re a writer?”
Her eyes widened. “Wow! I always see you writing in your little notebook…”
“This is usually what I’m working on,” I said, smiling again.
I told them a little about my work and the man asked if he was part of my story. I said no. Then he asked, “Are they real?”
By real, I thought he meant published, and was forced to admit that they weren’t. What he really meant was to ask was are they fiction or non-fiction, to which I happily replied that they were fiction of the fantasy variety.
“Oh, so you could put me in there!”
“As what, a grumpy old man?” the waitress replied.
We all laughed. News of my writing spread quickly, which flattered me immensely and ended with one man asking me to autograph his copy of my book when I get it published. That’s assuming a lot, but I assured him it would happen if and when the time comes.
But that question ate at me. At what point does a book become real, and does category have much, if anything, to do with it?
My characters are certainly real to me. So is Lokana, the world in which most of the action in my books occurs. I may not always accurately portray that reality, but that doesn’t diminish it for me. Every writer has room to grow.
And what is it that defines that reality? Is it perhaps the theme of the work as a whole, the messages you can find hidden on each page if you simply look? Or is it the people, the setting, the events that unfold within the story?
If it’s the theme, then perhaps things like genre and category are meaningless. Fantasy novels can show us just as much about people and life as the most stunningly written literary novel. Nonfiction can be profoundly illuminating even when highlighting life’s myriad absurdities. I read to experience things I otherwise would not, and to learn things I otherwise might not, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll learn something from everything you read.
The people and events depicted in books, as in movies, are examples of heightened reality, of reality devoid of all the boring routines that get most of us through each day. Does that make them less true-to-life, or more? Without the routines so many of us rely on and thrust into a series of extreme events, is humanity at both its best and its worst laid bare for closer scrutiny? I think so. After all, one’s own character is forged through trial, and so it should be in books.
My books feature complex characters and deal with real-world issues. I think that makes them real, and I hope that people will someday learn something – about themselves, about their world, either as it is or as they would like it to be – from reading my mad scribblings.
Of course, first I have to get published. To do that, I need to finish revising. To the writing cave!
What about you – has writing ever caused you to question reality, either in books or in life? What conclusions did you reach?
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