(Photo Credit HERE)
“I need to watch things die from a good safe distance / Vicariously I live while the whole world dies / You all need it too. Don’t lie.” – From the Song Vicarious by Tool (Listen HERE)
Keep in mind this blog is a product of my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. You are more than welcome to agree or disagree with anything I write. That’s what makes life on this spinning mud ball worth it.
I am of the opinion that if you are a lover of reading/books you are innately gifted to living a little vicariously. It’s not unusual for me to get caught up in whatever story I am currently reading. I remember the day when my wife handed me the book Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. It took me half a day to read and I cried for the other half. I warned my wife never to give me a book like that again; too many emotions attached.
That book was written purposefully to hit the reader in right in the feels. It is a different experience when it hits you unexpectedly. In the totally awesome, and definitely worth the read, Homeland by R.A. Salvatore the main character is forced to fight his own family, to include his father, to the death. This a story to me of a person that was born in the wrong place, time, and is in a constant moral conflict between what he feels and what he is told. It illustrates the struggle of defying your own family to do what you believe to be correct.
A good story will transport me away from reality and put me into a new one. A great story also makes me feel what the characters feel: a family that loses a child; a soldier trapped in a war; falling in love for the first time; facing a fear. For a short time I become someone else; I am able to travel to places I will never go; I can do things that are otherwise impossible.
One of my goals is to write, as my heroes do (which include song writers), and make the reader feel something. However, this type of empathy writing comes at a price. I have to evoke feelings from situations I’ve never experienced. I love writing horror and suspense, but I’m not about to become a serial killer. I want to write about a failed marriage, but I’m not divorcing my wife for the experience. I have to rely on the things experienced vicariously through others balanced with my own personal experiences to get me through these situations.
“So give me a song and I swear I’ll sing it / Like never before / All of my life I’ve watched this moment / Go right through the door / So don’t you save a single breath / For me when I’m gone / Cause there will be no lungs inside my chest / And nothing inside my heart” – from the song If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves by Arcane Roots (Listen HERE)
It has been my personal experience that vicarious living needs to be balanced by real world experience. It is rare that anyone can write an emotional love story without having the real world experience of love and loss. The result of such attempts often come across as amateur, fake, or disconnected. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
Unfortunately, there are some who cannot turn off their empathy and become trapped by emotions they cannot control. I remember reading and watching news stories about people that could not cope with the tragedy of September 11th. The unusual part of the story for me was the fact that these people lived miles away from the actual event (Read article HERE). Collective trauma is what psychologists called it.
One of the many things that upsets me about the state of the world today is the number of people who cannot tune out reality television. I do not care who gets kicked off the island; I don’t care if Samantha gets a rose; I definitely don’t care about whatever Kim Kardashian has to say about anything at any time. Time and time again I am told that I am in the minority on this opinion. For once, I am glad to be a black sheep. There are people out there that actually believe that they are a part of these contrived stories. They try to emulate what they see the characters on television doing: things they wear, the things they buy, where they eat, and the producers of these show know how to take advantage of this trend.
My advice, get off the couch, get out of your home/parents basement, and go experience life. Tell that guy or girl you love her, punch the bully in the face, do something you have always wanted to, but were too afraid. Have a shared experience. Then write about it. The leverage gained through actual experiences and vicarious living will be abundantly clear to the reader.
Good luck and happy writing.