Take My Hand — We’re Going Elsewhere

A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honore Fragonard c.1776

It would be easy for me to tell you that I write because I have to — that it’s in my blood and my heart, and I can’t help myself. That wouldn’t be true, exactly. I make up stories because I don’t know how not to. When I was a little girl, I told myself stories to fall asleep, and today I make up outrageous scenarios for people I see walking their dogs or sitting across a crowded restaurant.

But I don’t write those down. Making stuff up is not writing.

I would love to tell you I write for the money, but it’s too soon for that. Ask me again in a few years. Still, even if I were rich, it wouldn’t be why I started writing. Anybody who starts writing because they think it’s a good way to get rich quick is facing a huge letdown. That’s not it either.

I write because I read.

Books take us to a magical place called Elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if the place is filled with dragons, peopled by talking cats, or is exactly like our own world, but with new people we’ve never met. What matters is that, for the duration of the story, we get to step out of our lives and into someone else’s.

That’s a powerful thing.

If you’re miserable in your own life, you can be someone else for a few hours. If you’re bored, you’re entertained. If you’re stressed or worried about something, no matter how big or small, you can forget it for a short while.

Whatever the reason for escape, books take us somewhere else. They help us cope. They make us smile or laugh or cry or think.

And that’s why I write. For every book that was there for me when I was sad or lonely or trapped or just plain listless, I wanted to give something back.

Telling myself stories wasn’t enough. I wanted to share them. When something I write makes someone smile or gives them a short reprieve from thinking about their taxes or takes their mind off their broken leg while they’re stuck in bed, then I’ve done my job.

This isn’t high art, here. I don’t pretend to be writing literary masterpieces. This is entertainment. And entertainment can do a lot to keep us going. Sometimes our brains need to be quiet and stop thinking about all the things in our busy lives.

There’s magic in that escape you can’t pay a therapist to give you. It can’t be found in a glass of alcohol, a bottle of pills, or a frozen cheesecake. Those things are more fleeting and can leave you feeling guilty. There’s no guilt in the pages of a book.

It’s a small thing, sharing a story, but it can be so important.

I write because sometimes we all need a little Elsewhere to make it through.

Rachel is the author of the urban fantasy Monster Haven series from Carina Press. She believes in magic, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks, and putting things off until stress gets them done faster at the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas.

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