A connection that may or may not be real occurred to me recently, and I thought I’d run it by you. How much truth do you think there is in this statement: Many people who are dissatisfied with their lives prefer reading fiction over nonfiction because through fiction they can escape to alternate lives. Many people who are happy with their lives prefer reading nonfiction over fiction because they have no need or desire to escape their own realities.
To begin with, I’m not sure I’m right. Then, even if I am, I certainly don’t claim that my hypothesis holds true 100 percent of the time. But what if I’m right and it’s true most of the time?
Of course this inevitably leads me to ask if something similar is true of writers: Do writers who love their lives mostly write nonfiction, while writers who are dissatisfied with their lives mostly write fiction?
Speaking for myself, I LOOOOVE my life and write mostly nonfiction. I write for both children and adults, and while more of my juvenile books are fiction than nonfiction, my adult books are almost entirely nonfiction—how-tos, motivationals/inspirationals, general informative nonfiction…and cookbooks. Do I eschew fiction because I have no need or desire to escape my life? I frequently say that there is no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with, and it’s true. I’m divinely happy being me and living my life.
What I propose is that, if you’re a person who mainly reads fiction, you ask yourself if by any chance this is because you seek escapism from a life that you’re not happy with. And if your answer is Yes, I then suggest you take steps to make your life more satisfying and enjoyable. By all means keep reading fiction if you continue to enjoy it, but take steps to transform your life, too.
Bet you never thought your bookshelf would turn into a psychological diagnostic test, did you?!