I spend a great deal of time escaping from my life through daydreams. I always have. The critical thing to know here is that I have a fine life. Good parents, safe childhood, boring adolescence, stable relationship, etc. And even though I’m trying to stay engaged in this insane political situation, I still need to run now and then to a happy, quiet place where Trump can’t follow.
As a teenager, most of my waking hours were spent thinking about being able to fly and rescue people from burning buildings. Or being struck by lightning and suddenly being able to sing well enough to become a rock star. Or turning into a mermaid. Or being beamed up to the Enterprise by Captain Kirk (I hadn’t yet figured out that Lt. Uhura would have been much more to my liking.)
I think this is why I write romantic adventure fiction—it allows me to continue escaping. What would it be like to be flung back in time to 11th century Spain? I loved daydreaming about this for The Spanish Pearl and The Crown of Valencia. What would it be like to be a female pirate in the 1700s? More daydreaming for A Pirate’s Heart. Or an archeologist searching for a tomb? (The Copper Egg) Or a modern woman meeting Queen Elizabeth I? (Spark)
Scientific research is confused about daydreaming. Early studies claimed it made you lonely and unhappy, but more recent studies say that daydreaming can: 1) increase empathy; 2) enhance your memory; 3) improve creativity; 4) lift your mood; and 5) lead to self-discovery through imagining the possibilities. (Self-discovery has convinced me that, sadly, I’m never going to turn into a mermaid.)
For some of us, reading is a form of daydreaming, and I’m not going to apologize for that. I don’t always want to read books about traumatic moments or about important but difficult issues. I want to be entertained. I want to escape.
It’s not that I don’t like challenges, but I have plenty of those in my life, thank you. I want the books that I read, and that I write, to let me escape into the lives I’m not leading, and never will.