Why the hell would I want to find solutions to problems that don't exist?

January 22, 2018

A few years ago I tried to share a bit of my world with my father and told him I was writing a story about a planet with gravity a hundred times greater than Earth's. To be able to live there, 
I explained, people must go through a procedure that makes them strong enough to endure this tremendous gravity well. I don’t think I ever saw my father quite that flustered. "You're coming up with solutions to problems that don’t exist", he said, "I don't get this".

 

Recently, another member of my family suggested transferring me ownership of a patent he holds for a parking machine that lifts cars, since he doesn’t have time to exploit it. I politely turned down the offer. "I'm currently working on a submission to comics publishers," I explained, "If they like it, I'll be really busy." Again I was met with that same rattled look. "People need parking," he said, "Why would you ever want to be dependent on somebody to like your idea?"

 

On both occasions, I must admit I felt a slight sting of shame. This practical approach by my interlocutors, two people I think highly of, has made me think less of my craft. "What's wrong with me?" I asked, "Am I not a contributing member of society?"

 

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don’t solve "real" problems every day, but let's face it — I'm pretty sure I wasn't put on this rock to solve a major practical problem.

 

Still, a far as I know, both my interlocutors, as well as most real-world people, do watch TV series, go to the movies and read books. And I bet it's not just news and biographies they’re consuming (as if those genres somehow represented reality), but also a lot of fiction — particularly, Sci-fi and Fantasy. So I guess even the people who are solving major practical problems of the world need

to get away from daily reality once in a while… to let themselves get carried away to places and situations far outside their normal routines.

 

The truth of the matter is, it is not really up to us to decide our own basic nature. Some of us can't help but spend a substantial part of our lives exploring imaginary worlds at the expense of our actual one.

 

A few of us dreamers — the lucky ones — get the urge and chance to write about what we find there. I’m pretty sure you need it and I definitely hope you like it.

 

Your pal,

Ronen.


 

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