I used to hate the term. I felt that if things were so bad in real life that you needed to escape it, then maybe you should take a look at what was wrong and work to change it, instead of ignoring it. Nowadays that feels like a very naive way of thinking.
Things have changed. A lot. I find myself doing more and more things to actively shut off thinking about what’s happening in the world. Trump. Brexit (Frexit?). The rise of the extreme right. It’s probably the worst time in history to be an Arab man living in a Western country. My dad urges me to shave my beard. He thinks I would look Italian without it. That it would be safer. Fuck that. I’m still proud of my heritage. I’m not gonna hide. I’m not even Muslim, so I can’t imagine how it must be like for all those people. But the thing we have in common is that we all look like terrorists (Middle Eastern version of the word). It doesn’t matter that I’ve lived in Sweden the majority of my life. I still look like the “bad guys”. And you all know how much appearances matter. When the terrible attack in Stockholm happened two weeks ago, I prayed the terrorist wouldn’t be Arab. He wasn’t. And I felt happy about it. How messed up is that?
So these days I want to escape. Into books, games, movies etc. I need that break from real life. That was never my reason for entertainment previously. I would watch the darkest movies; read the darkest books and play the darkest games. But that doesn’t appeal to me right now. It’s too heavy. It makes me think too much.
My novel (the one I recently stuffed in the drawer) was not an uplifting piece of fiction. It was dark. A lot of grey areas and no real heroes. I wanted to explore the meaning of right and wrong, and it was never meant to be an easy read. The book I’m writing now is worlds apart from the previous one. This one has humor and is meant to be an adventure. I’m writing this novel with one purpose in mind: to entertain. It’s the kind of book I’d want to read myself. It makes me happy to write and maybe it will make someone else happy one day.
So I don’t hate the term anymore. I get it now. We all deserve a break.