My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Peter Newman to talk about how the power of escaping reality relates to The Vagrant.
As it happens, I have a few superpowers. I instinctively know where to stand in order to get in other people’s way (this is doubly true in Forbidden Planet and other people’s kitchens), I can relate most things to He-Man in three steps or less, and when the universe needs me, I can summon the appetite of ten tigers.
However, none of these things were any use in writing The Vagrant.
My superpower that helped most there was my ability to escape reality. Looking back on my childhood, I realise that I spent a lot of it not being me. This is partly because when you have the choice between real life and the life of a spacefaring master thief / dragonrider / superhero / cyborg law enforcer / Skeletor, there really isn’t much of a choice to make. And partly because that was how I dealt with the difficulties of puberty, school and growing up.
As an adult, I tend to fall back on similar skills when things get stressful. This is ideal for writing. The empty page is not a scary thing for me. It is place to go and hide. A safe place. No matter how terrible things get for my characters, no matter how grim my fantasy world becomes (and The Vagrant is set in a far-future post demonic apocalypse, so it gets pretty grim), it is nothing compared to how scary it is reading the news most days.
There’s always a time when I start writing and I put on some music (in this case it was the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack), and I’m aware of thinking about the scene and the structure of the particular sentence I’m working on and then…
Then I’m in it. I’m not in the world anymore, I’m writing, and all of the worries of real life are gone for a while. In the short term, I get to relax, and in the long term, I get a book.
Best. Superpower. Ever.*
*Excluding: flight, telekinesis, super speed, super strength, shapeshifting, time travel, energy manipulation, teleportation, spider powers, precognition, invisibility, absorption powers, animal control, astral projection, regeneration, cosmic awareness, danger sense, density control, duplication, power of illusion, invulnerability, telepathy, plant control, size alteration and the one that lets you manifest a silver surfboard.
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