We argue whether there’s a God, and whether we are mere puppets at the hands of a Superior Being. We obsess over questions of fate, predestination and are constantly perturbed by that sense of being controlled. A pretty harsh word, that. Control. Takes away any dreg of self-agency that we might have left in the already enclosed space (read: society and rules) that we, as human beings, function in. “Escape”, then, comes naturally as a sort of a counter-word to “control”. We all try to escape our fate; isn’t the struggle manifested in the feverish rat-race that we all are constantly participating in, living our lives in a frenzied rush to climb up the ladder of power and fame?
These arguments sound hackneyed, you may argue, and rightly so. And yet, it is in these seemingly commonplace philosophies that the role, rather, the purpose of a writer comes in. Escape. The creation of an alternate reality where one is master, the controller of all; where characters are mere puppets subject to one’s own whims and fancies. This might be a pretty sadistic view to take, but it can’t be argued that it is to quite an extent, true for most writers. Stories have universally been regarded as means of escape for readers; would it be wrong to assume they are the same for their writers too?
Characters essentially are manifestations of a writer’s own mind. It is incredible how a story can provide such a safe haven for a writer to roam free, albeit mentally. A blank paper (or rather, a blank screen, in today’s world) is a landscape to traverse unbounded and unrestrained; it is freedom at its truest, purest form, something impossible to experience in our own mundane existence, where conformity is the norm. As cathartic as it is, writing predominantly is about security and certainty. The writer occupies a vantage point in the world s/he creates and it is this position of the all-knowing, omniscient being that true pleasure of writing comes from. For most writers, when asked (and this is, needless to say, a banal question with writers) whether it is the process of writing or the product that matters more to them, it is almost always the process. In short, a writer in the process of writing is like a schoolchild after finishing exams (not a very astute comparison, but brings across the sentiments perfectly).
In a world where fear of power and norms dominate (too Hobbesian?), a writer can always retreat into his/her own alternate universe for refuge. It is the writer’s knowingness in this relatively unknown realm of story-writing that he/she finds solace in. Haven’t we all heard the “society creates a writer” adage before? And the debates about the “Utopian” nature of writing? One can, perhaps, never glean the true essence of writing; it has been conveniently labeled as “art” to convey the depth and intricacies of the process itself. There is one thing, however, that one can be sure of; stories empower and exalt their writers and who doesn’t seek exaltation in their own little world?