If you've spent more than five seconds on my blog, you'll know that I love stories. It kind of goes without saying. Books are one of my favourite things in the entire world - and I also adore movies, TV shows, muscials, plays... you name it, if it's got a narrative, chances are I'll enjoy it. I have always been this way. I think it's what draws me to writing; the idea of creating my own stories is so incredibly exciting (if slightly daunting).
Aside from a love of stories, there's another thing about me that has always been true: I'm a worrier. I get anxious a lot. But over the past couple of years, for various reasons, that anxiety has transformed from a little yapping dog that's kind of annoying, but easily dismissed, into a ginormous, three-headed beast with fangs as big as a football player and a bite that's most definitely worse than its bark. Why am I telling you this? Well, the thing about this beast is that it makes me question a lot things. Things I love. Things that make me who I am.
Since yesterday, that thing has been stories. Out of nowhere, the thought popped into my mind: "Why do you love stories so much? It must mean there's something wrong with you or something is missing from your life if you have to spend so much time in fictional worlds."
I immediately dismissed this thought as irrational and completely untrue. But while that would have shut up that little yapping dog, the beast is all...
I know, logically, that my affinity for fiction in no way limits my ability to live a full life. I have wonderful relationships, a great job, I travel... I live. And I know I have always loved stories and have never really used them as an escape because I couldn't bear real life - instead, I saw them as gateways to magical worlds. A bit of entertainment. A way to learn and understand more. Mostly, pure fun. It's not like I'm walking around thinking fiction is better than real life or caring more about fictional characters than real people (much)(jokes!)(kinda)(no really). I've never used stories as a substitute for real life. They have always been just stories. Stories that I love, hate, laugh at, cry about... but at the end of the day, I close the book or switch the TV off and get on with, y'know, living.
All of what I've just written makes complete sense to me. But the anxious part of me? It doesn't like logic. It doesn't like rationalising. It just likes to tell me I'm pathetic. The worst part is now I don't want to pick up a book, I don't want to watch TV or a movie... and I don't know what to do with myself. I'm doubting my long-held dream to write my own book. The anxious part of me says, "see, you're so inadequate that you feel the need to create new worlds and new people because you're not enough." Now, once again, I know this isn't true (how insulting to all the amazing authors out there if I thought it was!) but that doesn't stop me from doubting myself.
It hurts. Because I love stories, whether I'm reading them, watching them, or writing them. But right now I can't enjoy them as I usually do - a feeling which just reinforces the negative cycle that I somehow can't live in the real world. That I'm somehow not enough.
The truth is, I guess I do need stories. Not to survive, but, to paraphrase C. S. Lewis, to make survival worth it. Because stories? They bring joy, and hope, and beauty, and inspiration, and perspective, and empathy, and connection, and understanding, and knowledge, and a thousand other things that are good and wonderful and help give meaning to life.
Now if I can only get that through my own thick head, I might be get somewhere.
Do you think stories are important?