We live in a world where we seek escapism as entertainment — to some that means seeking oblivion in more destructive ways, but what I am talking about is the power of literature, the immersion inside a book. As a child I was always reading and am the same as an adult — it’s just I have less time these days! But I did love reading all the classics and I loved English Lit and analysing the hidden layers in novels. I guess that’s why I love that layering, I want more than just story.
I asked all the students I talked to last week how many wanted to write as children, most of them did. Same here.
All this got me thinking about the influence novels have on our lives, the power of the story.While we can enjoy the same kind of immersion in a film or play, even watching a show, for me nothing comes close to the experience of living inside a book.
Stories are more than just entertainment. They can change us — they can change the way we see the world.That for me is the magic. And rather than watch what a director wants us to see, reading is more of an active process, we all create a slightly different picture in our minds.And that’s magical.
So what novels have stayed with you? I remember some of the classics, the Austin’s, the Brontes, although I was more drawn to things like Mark Twain, Poe, Jules Verne and later Stephen King. I love Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird … so many.
Today in a society with so much opportunity and anyone can publish a book, we have to seek that ‘great novel’ and the traditional publishers still stand as a kind of bench mark for quality but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also some great self-published material.
In a world that’s changed so much, I wonder how much our needs have changed. For me, nothing like climbing inside a book and staying there. That was always my hope for my novel, that I’d be able to capture some of the qualities I look for and have loved from a book. I hope I have for some.
So, I think we need to remember that many of those other things — the movies, the plays, the shows could well have come from a novel, or a short story — so let’s never forget the importance of books.
Next week is Women’s Day and Gill James, Sarah Dobbs and I have decided to join forces for an event to celebrate women writing and we will be hosting an event and giving readings from our work in Manchester on April 17th.
The event is free but you do need to register.
Here is the link and I do hope some of you will be able to come and celebrate the power of writing with us.