In response to my post about why my conference (Pikes Peak Writers Conference) is the best conference, I got the following comment:
“Is your life so empty that you live in the fantasy world of fiction? Does your family mean so little to you that replace them with books?”
The person’s name was listed as “The Thing With Feathers.”
So, three cheers for me! I’m being criticized by an anonymous stranger!
But just in case ol’ Feathers is still paying attention, I thought I’d address his or her concerns.
Is my life so empty. Hm. Let me think about that. I have a husband who can still make me giggle. I have two teenagers with outrageous senses of humor. I’ve got family and friends. I freelance a weekly column for the daily paper in town. I’m the Programming Director for a fairly large writers conference, and I’m on the board of that same writing organization. (Hi, PPW! I’m waving!) I belong to a book group and a critique group. I just signed on to be part of the committee selecting a new principal for my daughters’ high school. Just had a big birthday bash to celebrate turning 50. I’ve devoted a portion of my life to the care and feeding of two cats. I’ve served as a local election judge. My involvement with Girl Scouts lasted ten years, as a leader. And I play Bunko once a month with a group of women I met when I belonged to the Rocky Mountain Moms Club. So no, I can’t say my life is empty.
Live in the fantasy world of fiction. Well, yes. Every chance I get. I don’t see any other way I’m going to visit other planets or get inside the head of a 1920s gangster or a Scottish warlord or an Orthodox Jew. Every time I read a book, I learn something. Maybe about the world, maybe about myself. My soul is a piano and books are the players. I’ve explored the many facets of so many different emotions while reading. Reading is relaxing, energizing, edifying, inspiring, amusing and educating for me, all at the same time.
Granted, I could take up drinking or drugs to relieve stress. Reading fiction just seems less messy. I could go to bars and pick fights. I could leave anonymous snarky posts of the blogs of people I don’t know.
No, I’ll stick with reading.
Does my family mean so little. All I can say is, I didn’t spend ten years as a Girl Scout leader for my own edification. Ditto volunteering at elementary, middle and high schools. I wouldn’t have married my husband if he wasn’t a reader, too. In fact, he introduced me to the works of Lois McMasters Bujold, Orson Scott Card and Michael Connolly, to name a few. (To be fair, I introduced him to Robert Crais, Terry Pratchett and Joe R. Lansdale, so I think we’re even.)
I’ve replaced them with books. ??? Well, books have never peed, pooped or vomited on me, and my children have done all three. My family (and here I extend past my immediate household and reach out for all the glorious, brilliant goofballs I’m related to) has made me laugh louder and longer than any book ever has. Books don’t hug me. Books don’t hold my hair back when I’m vomiting up my toenails because of the stomach flu. Books never need a tissue, a tampon or a towel when I’m otherwise engaged. Although books don’t interrupt me when I’m finishing other books, or use the last sheet of toilet paper and not replenish the supply.
No, I’d have to say I haven’t replaced my family with books. Or manbots. Or life-size cut-outs of the crew of the Enterprise. Or stuffed animals, overgrown zucchini, or inflatable dolls.
There is no “family or books.” Around here, it’s family AND books. And we like it that way.