In the late afternoons when I should have been studying the biology textbook, I was instead immersed in a Mills and Boon romance novel and being swept of my High School feet. My heart was content. Love was here. And then, I’d hear my mother walking up the hallway… and my novel would be quickly shoved into the top draw of my desk, and my head would be buried in the mind-numbingly boring world (for me) of how to dissect frogs.
In my younger years, I was always reading. I’ve lost count of the number of times my mother had to call me to set the table for dinner because I simply refused to climb down the magical Faraway Tree. I had every Enid Blyton book that was published, and I’d admire the collection on my bookshelf imagining that one day I’d give them to my own children. (Turns out I travelled too much, and any such dreams got left behind in imaginary suitcases.)
As an adult, I mostly read non-fiction. And I can read non-fiction all day long and not experience an ounce of guilt. I’m learning, researching, and acquiring knowledge. It’s part of my ‘work life’. But pick up a fiction book and read for ‘pleasure’? That’s for a lazy Sunday afternoon, right? Well, as someone who tends to work seven days a week (in some form), there are no fiction reading days. I’m trying to change my habits and read at least one fiction book a week ~ and not just on a weekend! Yesterday, for example, my daughter read the first book of her second trilogy out loud to me. No guilt! See, I’m getting better already.
The guilt of fiction inexplicably extends to writing fiction, as I discovered when writing Mosaic and Bluey’s Café. I’d creep out of bed well before sunrise to write; well before my family awoke, and well before the ‘official’ work day started… There was one day, with Bluey’s Café, where I wrote till midday ~ apologising the whole time. (I was in such a flow that I literally couldn't stop and wait till the next morning. Stupid to apologise! I write. That’s what I do. Why feel guilt?
I live words. I breathe them in. Why should some words be forbidden and others welcomed in? Perhaps fiction is like a drug, a socially acceptable addiction? One this is certain, it’s hard to come back to the ‘real world’ after a good read. Am I scared of avoiding 'reality'?
So, one fiction book a week. Any recommendations? (For the record, I prefer happily ever after endings!)