Coping, Couplets, & Character Sheets: My Need for Fiction In A Too-Real World / by Orey Wilson

I've never liked talking about politics. My family had (has) very strong, immobile views about many things and their opinions were thrown at me like battery acid water balloons most of my childhood. I learned at an early age that if politics came up, leaving the room would typically save you an hour or so of listening to screaming.

Now, in a world were the political climate (much like the world's climate) is getting hotter and more unavoidably awful. Let me say this now, this is not a political rant, an invitation to sway your beliefs, or really even a politically-based post. But, I want you to understand why I handle things the way that I do. 

If I, as a 10 year-old, had a question about religion, I couldn't just ask it. It would find its way back around to Rush Limbaugh or Bush and my question would never really be answered. I couldn't ask about race, or I'd just get a bunch of other names for the race without understanding why they were being treated differently. If, heaven help me, I had a question about sexuality, I would get shut down faster then I could say, "Heterosexual". I was forced to find more creative ways of asking questions and, later, ways of answering them for myself.

Recently, I have been asked time and time again why I don't show more of an interest in politics. I hate watching any TV program about it, I curl back into the safety of my phone if it comes up in conversation. But, that doesn't mean I don't think about the "Big Questions". In fact, I think about them all the time. However, instead of bringing them up at the dinner table, I weave them into my stories, poems, and role-playing games.

I've based whole games on racial and religious inequality. In my grad school poetry collection, "Edges of Men & Kings" I hint at undiagnosed mental illness in nearly every other poem. I return to themes of gun-violence, depression, tyrannical leaders, and sexuality over and over. But, my goal is, not to talk about or preach my views of them, but make them intrinsic to the environment of my work. In my working-collection of poems, "Soundtrack for An Apocalypse", I mention sounds of gunshots or far off, unnamed shooters frequently. They aren't the reason for/point of the poem, but they create a backdrop for the poem to cross. I don't write them to give my opinions or change my reader's; they simply are part of my life so they become part of my poems. 

So, how does this help you? What do you get by me releasing my mental blocks in poetry or dice games? Well, last night, as I played through a one-night, sci-fi Western game called "Snake Oil Springs", I realized something. Besides the things I knowingly tuck among my written and spoken narratives, other things get absentmindedly woven in too. I realized that however much danger or fear I put my characters or players in, there's always more to the story. I push them to get them to an end where there is something deeper. I motivate them to find the hope.

I realized then that my writing has become more than just an outlet for the things I can't say; it has become my therapy. It allows me to work through my problems in a format where I can't be hurt by mistakes. I'm free to be creative and wild and haphazard because it's a world of my invention. As lines and stanzas roll off of me, they reflect myself in ways that I can't find in my waking-world. And this gave me an idea: if hope is there, so close under the surface of myself, why can't I harness it everyday, all the time?

I can. And I'm going to try. This world has bad running through it like colors in a funfetti cake. But, that doesn't mean that the cake is ruined. It can still taste delicious. It can still be a simple of celebration. We can have our partially-evil cake and eat it too. (Note to self: Don't write blog posts when you're hungry).

The point is, we can all find Hope somewhere. Hope has no way to protect itself when things get crazy. Like the Gorgonites from Small Soldiers (10 Blog Points if you get the reference), it is designed to take cover and wait when violence and fear begins. Maybe it's in that travel food blog you follow. Maybe it's in that unread Russian novel sitting on your night stand. It could be in that ideal for a screenplay you're never going revisit. For all I know, it might be in the season finale of Westworld (I don't know. I haven't watch it yet.) All I know is that it's out there. Hope isn't dead. It's hiding in works of fiction. Go find it and bring it back here.