When I don’t write, the world doesn’t end.
Why should it end? No reason, absolutely none. The sun, the stars, the men and women who people this planet – none of them are affected by what a twenty-one-year old does or doesn’t do with her time. It would be a terrible responsibility, a massive and frightening one, to be able to affect so much. It would be power beyond words, power so overwhelming that it would be too much for any single, sane human being to deal with.
Then again… as writers, isn’t that exactly what we do? We create worlds and people them with our characters, people who are real enough to us that we’re willing and eager to spend our days with them. When we neglect them, their world stops entirely. They cannot go anywhere, cannot find out what the next part of their story is without us. We have ultimate, godlike power over them. What an incredibly frightening notion.
I’m making all this sound much more grandiose than it is, of course. Obviously, the worlds and people we create aren’t real, not really real, not real like you or I or our next-door neighbors. Then again, when I read a book and get into it, its story becomes real to me as long as I’m engrossed. Anything less than my total involvement and belief in the characters is, in my opinion, a kind of failure of that book or story. Even fantasy or sci-fi aren’t doing their job if I don’t believe in the possibility of the people, the magic, the worlds being real.
When I look at writing this way, it terrifies and exhilarates me at the same time.