Friday, November 7, 2014

Books Let Us Live 1,000 Lives

For this past Halloween I dressed up in a costume for the first time in a long time.  Maybe my lack of dress-up has something to do with the time the NYPD pulled up and drew their guns at me when I was waiting at a bus stop dressed as a cowboy with a fake gun.  Or maybe I deferred to my kids to get dressed up, leaving playtime to the young.  Or perhaps I was uninventive when it came to creating my own costume and I was too cheap to buy one.  But this year was different.  And the whole process of dressing up reawakened my views about superheroes, novels, movies, and role-playing fantasy.

I went trick or treating with my children – my son is nine and a half and my daughter is three years younger.  He dressed up as the killer ghost from the Scream movies, though he’s never watched those films.  She was Fancy Nancy, based on the children’s book character.  How appropriate for the child of book-loving parents.  My wife dressed as a devil with a sign that read PRADA, as in The Devil Wears Prada.  Another book reference!  I went to Party City and plunked down $70 for a costume and accessories.  I went as a pimp, decked out in an outfit that made me look like a 70’s ghetto businessman.  I was a walking scene straight out of Baretta or Kojak.  I loved being someone else.

I think we all love being someone else.  If only we could do this every day, and to be someone different each sunrise.  We spend a lot of time imagining we are someone else.  Just look at the entertainment we take in – movies, books, and television. There is a clear pattern of each of us willfully letting our minds escape, free to wander in the lives of others that circumstances could never permit us to be.  Our literary arts and creative imaginations allow us to be whomever we want, without risk, pain, investment, or repercussion.

It’s so rewarding to feel like we’re super strong, beautiful, wealthy, brilliant or powerful.  It’s exciting to be a bad person and not feel guilt or fear.  It’s great to live by a completely different ethical code in a make-believe world without boundaries.  Halloween allows us, just as our entertainment does, to live a fantasy, and then permits us to return safely and politely to the masks we wear in our daily lives.

We really live a split life – the one of actions and reality, and the one that unfolds in our thoughts and dreams.  Are we the loyal spouse who never cheats – or are we the stars of our own imagined porn videos?  Are we loving people who give to charities – or are we the villains we dress up for on Halloween?  Are we law-abiding people, or the sadistic killers we secretly root for on screen?

Books in particular are a great means to express our fantasies as writers and to live them out as readers.  The treasure that lives inside our fiction is valuable to all who immerse themselves in books that transport us to other eras, dimensions, and circumstances.  Halloween lasts one might, but books are forever.

I don’t know that anyone would ever want to dress up as me for a day, but I know I love to live as another with every novel consumed.  I wouldn’t really want to be anyone else but me in real life, but in fantasy land it’s so nice to be anyone but me.

Who do you want to be?  Write your story now and live out on paper and screen who you would love to become.  I’m a pimp, I’m a cowboy, I’m a cop.  I’m a baseball player, I’m a president, I’m a monster.  I’m anyone, everyone, and no one at all.  I am what I write and read, getting to live 1000 lives in a lifetime.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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