Getting Away

tumblr_m6o8rdALXy1qhwhflI like to be entertained by stories. I want to be taken away to a place I’ve never been or to see place I’m familiar with in a new way.

That’s not asking too much, is it?

Now, don’t get me wrong – we need all kinds of stories. We learn from them, we are informed by them, hopefully we take them to heart and not too seriously. Except when we should. It’s complicated.

But it shouldn’t be. We should be able to discern which stories are entertainment and which are informative. The blurred lines of our society right now make that sometimes very, very difficult. 

I’m all over the place, but let me bring it in for a minute.

We need stories for all sorts of reasons but the reason I love them is when I get to escape for a little while. Movies do this pretty well but reading a good book can be every bit as effective.

Except it’s becoming apparent that people don’t read a lot of long-form stories any more. We live in a culture of information bursts, 140-character notes that ask us how we feel and now what we think. I suppose that a doomsayer might argue that we are losing our stories to short attention spans.

Another might argue that news stories are more entertainment than news these days and that’s due to the short attention-spans, too. I suspect it’s more to do with our need to be constantly entertained. It’s rare that the average reader pursues a story to learn something. That doesn’t mean the stories aren’t being told in long forms, it doesn’t mean that books aren’t being published. They are. And people are buying them, they’re listening, they’re watching.

But I don’t know if they’re inspiring more stories.

That’s why I like to be entertained by stories. I will watch a movie or TV show, listen to a story on NPR or read something on the Internet and latch on to a phrase or an idea, really just a nugget of something, and then I will be inspired to find out more or extrapolate a situation from that bit. Occasionally, I’ll come across a story that has so many throwaway ideas in it that I will watch or read or listen multiple times. I’m always looking for inspiration to tell another story or to include in one I’m working on.

Your mileage may vary, but I suspect it’s the same for most of us. We want to be entertained, taken away someplace we aren’t at the moment. When we want to know something or be informed, it’s usually because we want to change something in our lives and we’re seeking to get away. Maybe not.

But we almost always find what we’re looking for in a story of some kind.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at

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