I do not consider myself to be particularly artistic. I can’t draw, I can’t paint and I certainly can’t play a musical instrument. Whilst I appreciate a nice drawing or painting and love music, I never really felt compelled to learn how to create fine art or play my favourite songs. They were something to experience rather than immerse myself into.
However, when it came to creative writing it was almost the opposite way around. I could take or leave reading a novel (well until the Harry Potter books started being published!) but I absolutely loved creating my own stories. I could really let my imagination run wild and create a world of my own, free from the restrictions of real life. I could create the rules and control that world, control the people in it. If it did not make sense, who cared, it was artistic licence. I felt a real freedom in the immersion of writing and creating fictional worlds and people. It was escapism in a fantastical way, a way that had no basis in reality but it helped me cope with real life when I was younger.
As I got older, in my late teens, the stories I wrote were still very much fictional but had evolved into something much more grounded in real life. The realities I now wanted to create through my writing were as realistic as possible. The escapism came from the sequence of events that happened and back stories of the characters in them. As a frustrated, sometimes angry teenager still searching for a sense of identity, looking back I have realised creating these characters helped me explore my own emotions. It let me express my emotions and frustrations in a way that was not going to hurt or upset anyone except the fictional characters in my writing. I am pretty sure, looking back, that some of the characters I created were exaggerated versions of myself, friends and family or a version of myself I wanted to be.
I think escapism is usually discussed from a reader’s perspective, you enter an authors idea to get some respite from the real world, and is heavily associated with fantasy like going on an adventure with Frodo Baggins. I think the truth of escapism is that is it very subjective and individual and can be something you can actively participate in as well as observe.
My writing evolved as I got older from fantasy to something darker and more real but it still took me away from my sometimes mundane and stressful real world. The purpose of my escapism had also evolved from a simple coping mechanism to a coping mechanism with the simultaneous benefit of being my emotional punch bag, which allowed me to make sense of my reality.
Bereavement Support Officer