The World versus THE WORLD
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have the best job in the world. The best job ever, actually. I sit at home in my beautiful study which looks out over a gorgeous valley and far off on the horizon is a bright blue line which is the Ionian sea. With a powerful enough telescope, I could see the Greek temple where Pythagorus taught over two thousand years ago.
So here I am, in comfortable, pretty homewear, with a steaming cup of vanilla tea, my favourite, by my monitor, writing (living) tales of love and adventure. Of goodness and truth prevailing and—oh yes—having the sexiest man alive madly in love with my heroine. And (whisper this) me. You can’t write these intense stories unless you fall in love with your protagonists, fall into being your protagonists.
On a good day—not all days are good days—I will melt into my computer monitor in the morning and wake up, dazed, hours later. Having to remind myself that it’s time to make the beds, cook lunch, jump back into The World. Which to be honest is not all that easy if you’ve just spent the past four hours falling in love, evading vicious bad guys and, ahem, having outrageously good sex. All in words alone, it’s true, all simply sitting in front of that monitor, all in your head. But while you’re writing it, if you’re lucky, it’s all true, and it’s all happening to you. In THE WORLD.
The World is the real world of work and bills to be paid and meals to be prepared and –ack!—housework to be done. Going to the dentist, booking the flight, fighting with your bank over unfair charges. All those fun things. It’s The World where you get sick or loved ones get sick, your best friend undergoes a wrenching divorce, another good friend’s son is on drugs. The world where things are often hard, unpleasant, and don’t always end well.
I spent 30 years in The World, doing a hard, stressful job that required massive, industrial amounts of travel. It required incredibly focused attention and fanatical attention to detail, every second of every day. It required for my travel to be calculated down to the minute if I were to make it to the next job or even home. Meeting in Brussels ends at six, at six oh five taxi waiting downstairs for the twenty minute ride to the airport to make the seven o’clock feeder flight to Rome, to make the last nine o’clock flight, which was my last chance of getting home. If anything went wrong, I ended up staying the night in Brussels or in Rome. In conditions like this, you must stay as alert as a gladiator in the arena, because if you miss any step of the way, you’re in trouble.
After a while I hated having to be constantly geared for battle. I could never allow myself dream time, down time.
Call it the left-brain, right-brain divide. You know the one—there are two people inside your head. There’s the logical, factual, detail-oriented you that sees things in segments and then there’s the dreamy, imaginative you that feels your way through situations and can see the big picture.
Integrated personalities are both left-brain and right-brain, but today’s world of work privileges the left brain to the exclusion of the right brain, and most of us end up lop-sided.
The left brain lives in The World, this one, with its duties and limits and facts and the right brain lives in THE WORLD, infinitely brighter and more exciting.
When I switched to writing I felt like I’d been given my life back. I moved from The World to THE WORLD, the one where my books take place. I love it so much there, where I am so immersed in my story I end up walking into walls, because the wall isn’t there in the book, why should it be there in reality? It’s so luscious just sinking into the story, like into a warm bath, living it so intensely you can feel the emotions on your skin. If things are going well, I just hate being yanked from THE WORLD to The World, it feels like some vital part of me is ripped away.
I feel the same about reading, actually. I dive into the book and live it passionately. One of the few things I miss about travelling is those long, long periods of time in which there is nothing to do but read a book. Eight, sometimes ten hours of full immersion in an exciting romance or thriller and you wake up in another city, another country, sometimes another continent and you’ve lived the story completely. Bliss.
What magic our stories are! THE WORLD takes us so far away from The World, often to a brighter, more exciting place. You only get one life in The World, but in THE WORLD, ah, you can have a thousand lives!
Lisa Marie Rice