On a forum about unexplained mysteries, which I visit frequently, a poster recently opened a thread about living in a fantasy world instead of the real one. Instead of being involved in day-to-day ‘normal’ activities or having an active social life, she imagined vast, detailed worlds inside her own mind and lived there.

The general consensus was that she’s weird, or mentally ill, or just a young person (she’s 19) not understanding – or fighting against – the responsibility that comes with growing up into an adult.

But I understand her.

Interesting to note that she is, wants to be, and intends to be a writer.

Umm… isn’t that just what writers do?

Barring a complete withdrawal from society, what IS wrong with living in made up worlds inside your head? Especially if your intention is to write novels or stories set in that world? Right now, I have four worlds bopping around inside my head… complete with people (or people-like things), animals, geographies, governments, religions, climates and all. I know these places as well as I know the state I live in… and definitely better than I know the whole country.

What’s wrong with that?

I’m not supporting ignorance. Willful stupidity is a major pet peeve of mine. And I’m not encouraging being lazy about washing dishes or feeding the cat or mowing the lawn. But if you are a writer… especially a writer of fantasy… you have to live in worlds created inside your head. You just have to.

You have to know the world you’re writing in as well as your main character does… and they actually live there! You have to be able to feel the wind coming off the farms, smell the thick, dead stench of the docks, hear the blacksmith’s hammer as you hurry past on your way to the stables. If your character does these things, you have to do them too. And they have to be known as comfortably as you know your desk chair or your couch. They have to be lived in.

Maybe writing fantasy IS being a weirdo in some ways. Our job as writers is to transport people into another world, and we should be there waiting for them, to help show them around.