Fiction writers all deal with the same obstacles, but also with the same basic reality.
Each of us carries fantasy within us. Whether in daydreams, goals, or planning strategies, fantasy is at the heart of our lives. Without it, things would wither and die. So would we.
As children, we talked to ourselves and invisible friends. Come on–‘fess up, you did too. We found ways to entertain ourselves. Okay, so that applies mostly to those born before 1085. But the fact remains–we fantasize all the time.
We’ve had an argument with someone and afterwards, we go over the confrontation and rebuild it with what we would/should have said if we’d thought of it at the time. We’ve done something we think we’ll be criticized for and we’ll mentally audition explanations before the dreaded reveal of our “crime”.
See what I mean?
That’s why I say, which comes first–fiction or life? We talk about the chicken and the egg, life imitating art and vice versa. But can we really determine an answer without contingencies?
As writers, we pluck story lines from headlines. We use our experiences to form cores of plots. And along the way, we learn about ourselves and human frailties.
One reason readers connect with characters and books are the built-in human qualities, good and bad, we put into the people who inhabit our stories.
Classics are born because of those qualities and those imaginary friends and foes we’ve fantasized about and put on paper and electronic devices. And in some ways, those illusory human and non-so-humans are as real to us as any flesh-and-blood individual roaming this earthly plane.
We predict the future, recount and explain the past, and live in a present somewhere in-between.
For us, reality is merely a word plastered on whatever time zone we’re working inside at the moment. We like it that way, and it doesn’t matter to us which comes first.