With a book getting ready to release and one on sale right now, I’ve thought a lot about whether it’s the time or the place to be promoting them. You see, there’s a lot going on in the world that’s so much more important than a silly little love story. Right? I mean, how can I possibly focus on asking people to buy my books when there are so many causes that truly need money to help them fight the good fight? How can I sit down and read, knowing there’s so much turmoil in the world?
The answer is quite simple, really.
Reading is an escape. Looking back, I can remember completely losing myself in a book series at the end of my first marriage. It was over, we both knew it was over, but we’d promised one another we’d revisit the idea of divorce six months down the road, not wanting to be quitters. We’re talking DOA. He’d told me he loved me but wasn’t in love with me. That’s pretty damn definitive. So, when I found a new series I enjoyed, I completely lost myself in that fictional world until I’d worked my way through all twelve books.
I’m not saying it was a healthy coping mechanism to spend nearly every waking minute I wasn’t at work, driving, or taking care of the house with my nose buried in a book. I can see now that it wasn’t, and I do check myself if I start losing days to fiction.
It was a respite. It was a way for me to forget everything that was dragging me down. Through the lives of the characters, I felt happiness.
Fast forward a few years, to when I was dating my now-husband. We’d moved hundreds of miles from my family. That may not be a big deal to some, but at the time I’d never lived more than twenty-five miles from them. Combine loneliness with a host of other issues and I was depressed. I’m not using that lightly; at one point, I was hospitalized because I reached out when some very dark thoughts consumed me.
I still remember sitting on an odd daybed type of thing in our sun room, reading A Theory of Relativity. I was sucked into the book from the beginning because it was set in Wisconsin and I needed a connection to home. I had no idea during those early chapters that the author would close the distance with one simple sentence at the end of the book. “We moved to Oregon, the town, not the state…” I may not have the words verbatim because it’s been at least fourteen years since I read the book, but it wasn’t much different.
You see, I grew up in Oregon. The town, not the state. The very Oregon she wrote about in that book. And for a moment, I forgot about the states separating me from everything I loved.
Last night, I saw an author on Twitter apologizing for promoting her book because she said it felt like bad timing with all the political upheaval we have right now. I get it. I feel the same way at times. But you know what? We don’t write silly little love stories. We create worlds where people can forget everything that’s weighing them down. We write stories of hope in an often bleak time. Readers need our stories, not as a way to forget everything they “should be” paying attention to, but because if they don’t take a break, it’s easy to be dragged under by all the negative in life.
So no, I won’t feel guilty about books, either as a writer or a reader. Writing and reading doesn’t mean I don’t care about what’s going on, only that I’m incapable of spending every minute of every day fighting without a break. Remember, self-care is critical right now. Fight the good fight, but take time to revitalize your soul.