The Power Of Fiction
Maria Moore tells us how fiction has taken over her life – in the best possible way.
I’m not sure if it was a conscious thing at first, but at some point I began to escape into fictional worlds.
It started with books. I devoured them, poring over their pages and savouring each word. I found myself in extraordinary tales of wizards and witches and other worlds and magical creatures. I picked them by length because the speed with which I read meant short stories were over too quickly and I wanted to live between their pages for as long as I could.
Next came films, which fascinated me so much I spent three years studying them. I watched favourites on repeat, I memorised quotes, I talked about storylines as if they were true. I fell in love over and over again with characters and tales tucked between pages and depicted on celluloid. Fiction became a way to cope with the real world unfurling around me. But as much as it became a way to escape, it became a guide by which I lived my life.
Like an unstoppable force fiction infiltrated every aspect of my life. Books became a gateway to more books, and to more films. I came across Say Anything, now one of my favourite films, because a character in a book I read had the poster on her wall. I discovered Chekhov and Plath for similar reasons. I listened to music I heard in films, I watched films I read about in books and books that were mentioned in films. These things all collided when I first saw Gilmore Girls and discovered the art of the pop culture reference, which soon became a basis for everyday conversation.
I went to my fictional worlds for advice, too. I read every teen novel I could get my hands on, describing first kisses, first loves, first heartbreaks and returned to them when I went through my own. I turned to Rory Gilmore when I was about to start university and watched her first day at Yale again and again before I left home and long after. When I made the wrong choices, which happened a lot, I searched for examples of my own mistakes to seek validation and solutions.
And, inevitably, I fell in love because of fiction. As an awkward teenager, I fell in love with boys on pages and on screens. I read and watched intense, brooding boys who read Russian novels and watched French films. At nineteen, I realised these boys actually did exist, but were best avoided. And yet by then I couldn’t help but fall in love with boys because of pages and screens.
I read High Fidelity and subscribed to the, “It’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like,” way of thinking. A dark-haired, moody-looking boy told to me about intelligent, dark, sensitive films that made him seem like a catch. I didn’t stand a chance. He wasn’t, of course, and I consoled myself with yet more films, reminding myself that I liked them because I wanted to, not because a guy I liked did. But I still I kissed boys in bars because of their favourite films, because they carried books in their pockets, because I thought it meant something more than it did.
Fiction is a powerful thing and after writing this, I wonder if perhaps it has too much of a hold on me. But in a world that is so often confusing, dark and difficult, fiction has kept me going. Books and films and television have given me friends and loves and adventure and opportunity, in both their pages and in real life. They have been both a way of life and a way of escaping life.
I have found myself in pages and scenes, and their secrets have spilled over in the simplest of ways, teaching me, encouraging me, pushing me forward to discover more. This, for me, is the true power of fiction. It’s ability to enrich our lives and inspire us to learn more about the world around us and it’s capacity to comfort and distract when we are wearing from that same world. And if this is what has come so far, then what is yet to come excites me even more.
For more on Maria’s obsession with fiction, visit her blog.