When I’m in the middle of writing, I do it because there are stories, characters, and worlds in me that I need to express. They drive the entire process. Once I get going, they take over, living their lives in my head, and it’s all I can do to try to keep up.
But writing is exhausting and hard. Staring down that blank page is terrifying. You confront your insecurities, and push yourself to not flinch away from the dark and the terrible, if that’s where the story needs to go. During times when your real life is stressful, when you’re worrying about finances, relationships, health concerns, or the political climate, it can be difficult to put all of that aside and let yourself be a mouthpiece for an imaginary world.
So why do I keep doing it? Why do I show up and stare down all those empty lines and make a place in my life for all these people who don’t actually exist?
I do it because I believe in the power of stories. It is the only true magic in the universe. A fictional work has the ability to transport you to another world for a short period of time, to act as a comfort, an escape, and a friend. But it’s more than that. It can act as a catalyst for change by giving us an exaggerated stage on which we to try on identities, emotions, or confront elements of ourselves that we’re not ready to face. Grieving for a toxic relationship that needs to end might be too hard right now, but you can weep without shame for the heartache of a fictional character. Current events might make you feel helpless, and you avoid thinking about them, but the injustices of a parallel dystopia will let you vent your rage and rejoice as heroes bring about its downfall. It might be terrifying to picture yourself as irrevocably different by labelling your truth, but a fictional character admitting their gender doesn’t fit into the neat boxes they’ve been assigned can validate and voice thoughts you’ve been ignoring all your life.
The act of creating fiction does magic for the writer as well, and I find my own issues being confronted and worked out through the characters. But I know that if this story helped me, it’s bound to help someone else going through something similar. If I were only creating for my own sake, I would just lay in bed daydreaming stories for days. But I want to give something back, as like… a thank you for all the books that have impacted me in my life. And because participating in the magic of storytelling is so incredible. There isn’t much that is more rewarding than hearing someone tell you a thing you created has impacted their life.
So I keep writing. I keep trying and putting myself out there and making things and doing my best. I let the story magic fill me up and hope whatever comes out can help someone else.
About the Author:
Jaylee James is a writer, editor, and story curator from the Kansas City area. As a demi-bisexual bigender demigirl, e has a passion for LGBTQ+ fiction. E is the editor of Circuits & Slippers, an anthology of science fiction fairy tales, and creator of Vitality Magazine. You can find more of er work at JayleeJames.com.