The Thrill of It All

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I am not a thrill seeker – don’t like heights, don’t like going downhill fast, don’t like endangering my life and limbs. I’m a wuss that way.
But today I wondered if that were true. I just finished reading the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s the kind of book (actually, for me most are) that takes me away until I am lost to this world, this time, my life. I live for however long it takes me to complete the story, in this other reality, this other world. For that length of. time, I live the life of other people.
Sometimes I hesitate to start a book. I avoid reading because once I’m into a book, I don’t want to do anything else. Bring me drinks and food and shut the door when you leave. Thanks.
And when it’s over, when I raise my head and contemplate Real Life, I do wonder how the world is still turning, how everything is as it was, when I feel I’ve changed so completely. I wonder if anyone realizes the trauma I’ve just experienced. This has been said before and more eloquently and I’m sure many know this feeling.
Wait, I’m coming to my point.
This book, All The Light We Cannot See, takes place in Germany and France before, during, and after World War II. The story follows a German boy and a blind French girl .
I am with them for it all – pre-war privations, the terror, the grief and in the boy’s case, loss of soul. I’m there, all along the way. These characters are brave and daring and selfless. Either of them, or their loved ones, could die at any moment. It’s terrifying for them. I had an epiphany. This is my thrill seeking.
I don’t need to be a dare devil – I’m a reader!
Sure, we get a vicarious rush watching movies or television, but it’s a surface adrenalin charge. With reading, you get under the skin of the character. I know it sounds odd, sounds contradictory, but with movies and television, to me, it’s more tell than show. You’d think it would be the other way around. But in a book you’re more involved, you get inner thoughts, you get the motivation and you‘re feeling the fear, the awe, the surprise, the love, the hatred as the characters as they feel it. And it’s because the author has shown, not told.
But wait, there’s something even more thrilling for us armchair dare devils – writing a book! Then you get to create your own adventures. The occupation of being a writer is a thrill in itself. It’s not safe, it’s the opposite.
I have been a Pony Express rider, have traveled across the country in 1862 with a band of Shoshone Indians, lived in oceans and conversed with goddesses and eluded a shark as a mermaid and most recently, went back to middle school. It doesn’t get scarier than that.
Our chapter of The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators has begun a new season. Our first speaker did a session on Voice. She gave book titles as examples as she went along, giving me a whole new list of future adventures. Who knows what I will encounter as I read these stories? I can hardly wait for the exhilaration of experiencing new places, new cultures There could be time travel, heart pounding chills, heartaches and hope.
It’s okay though, I’m up for the challenge. I’m a thrill seeker that way.
Stay tuned. See you in November.