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Nonfiction: Better Than Drugs

no nonfiction owlI may look calm, but inside I’m sort of an anxious person. Sometimes reading fiction just winds me even tighter. But to my surprise, nonfiction has become my medication. If I need to calm down, to banish my often irrational anxieties, I ignore fiction and reach for nonfiction. With nonfiction, my heart rate returns to normal and I calm down. Who knew one could use nonfiction in place of a drug?

Fiction is supposed to be the great escape, but escape to what? The very heart of fiction is conflict–it’s what drives any story. Yet if I’m already burdened by conflict or anxiety in real life, why would I want to take on someone else’s? So I often set fiction aside and find the lack of conflict in nonfiction to be a relief. Of course, there is tension in any well-written nonfiction, but it doesn’t feed my anxieties.

One possible downside to reading nonfiction is that, like drugs, it can be  addictive. Hard news, I know, but it’s a risk worth taking.

3 thoughts on “Nonfiction: Better Than Drugs”

  1. I wrote a column in our local paper for 20 years. For 14 of those years it was about loss because I was working for hospice. It was amazing to me how many people would comment about it, write me notes, stop me on the street. People seemed comforted by my putting into words, the things they were feeling. One frequent comment was, have you been looking through my window? The topic struck a chord!
    And, it was therapy for me. Gaining perspective on things I saw or experienced in a controlled number of words forced an editing of my thoughts. When I taught personal growth classes, I reminded students of their great imaginations, and the propensity to exaggerate and over blow a problem. Forcing it into words that would actually fit into their mouths and come out as they spoke, would whittle away some of the fear and exaggeration and help the deal with a manageable problem.
    So, yes, non-fiction. Calming.

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  2. Yes, sometimes it can be fun to read a book about, say, the making of a movie or TV series you’ve really enjoyed. Getting into all the minutia about directors, screenwriters, technical issues, etc. can be surprisingly absorbing. And then, later, when you go back and view it again, with that whole new set of information about it, it looks completely different!

    Reply

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The Big Pivot

About Me

After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.

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