Many readers tell me that a good book should help them escape. They're usually pretty vague after that, as if the word "escape" covers it.
It's up to our imagination to guess what so many people want to escape from: their troubles, their cares, monotony itself.
But then I realize that for the writer, it doesn't matter what each person wants to leave behind, only that they want to leave something behind. It's my job to make whatever is on the page more introspective and interesting than the personal problems a reader may have at the moment.
This, I think, is also the essence of Halloween. It's a night to throw-off the mundane, to be less serious, to discard the ordinary.
It seems a little morbid that so many of us want to enter another person's reality in order to gain respite from our own. Whenever we pick up a book, it offers the chance to trade our problems for another person's.
Fortunately for writers most people are willing to make this bargain.
Why spend time on taxes, bills, the dishes, or taking out the trash? No. People would much rather run from Michael Meyers, hunt vampires, or try to survive a zombie apocalypse. Scary stories can make hearts race and palms sweat. When was the last time household chores ignited our need to survive?
So to the goal of escapism, I raise a toast of Halloween cider. For if a good story helps us escape, then what is an author but an escape artist?
Unlike Harry Houdini, us authors don't have to chain ourselves up and get in our underpants to do our job. We can do it from the safety of our keyboard.
For the writer, then, there's a little escapism too.
You didn't think the readers had all the fun, did you?