One of the reasons why I chose to be a writer was my recurring desire to be someone better, braver, bolder. Stories offer an escape and provide emotional comfort, and by writing them I can become other characters, and in a way, rewrite my life.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin
Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to be someone else. In one of my earliest memories I am a four-year-old pedalling on a tricycle imagining I was the star of the soap opera my mother enjoyed at that time.
Aged five, I wanted to be Batman.
Aged six, I wanted to be Spiderman, because I was in love with Felicia Hardy.
Between ages 7 and 15 I wanted to be Zidane. The headbutt he gave a rival player during the 2006 World Cup final somewhat changed my mind, but then he retired after that anyway and I lost my interest in football.
In the following years I wanted to be this or that cute and stylish boy from my school or neighbourhood.
I should point out by now that I have never been altogether pleased with myself. I have always been short and frail and unhandsome, and experienced great difficulties each time I tried to tie my shoelaces. Don’t let my literary skills trick you. I am a faulty bundle of atoms.
Today I would like to be many people. A hardworking Nordic fisherman, a blubbery baker, an office clerk, anything but the hatted boy with his great literary burden.
I am aware though that I am a different person every day. Who I was yesterday is different from who I am today, and who I am today is not who I will be tomorrow. My feelings and my thoughts change fast. I am happy today, miserable tomorrow.
“I dreamt I was a butterfly, and I awoke, and now I no longer know whether I am a man who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who is dreaming he is a man.” (reworded.)
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be someone else, I think, especially when you’re a writer. All that discontentment tickles the imagination and inspires you.
There’s a danger though. If you write in the first person, you could end up creating the same character over and over, only with a different name.
I suspect that time pacifies this craving to be someone else, as your dreams come true, or as they fail. Or after you make children. Then you are too busy raising the vicious beasts to have time to think about what you want.