In other news that makes me all kinds of happy, I have discovered the community dianawynnejones. With this discovery came a second one, that of a confusing logic problem. This group is for fans of author Diana Wynne Jones. It has about 674 members as of right now. According to the statistics page, Livejournal's total number of accounts is currently 23,568,712. These numbers are not the same! HOW CAN THIS BE?
I joined the group immediately, of course, but careful mathematics indicate that this does not make the numbers equal. Strange. Well, I guess we can never know all the answers.
Here, though, is an example of why everyone with a Livejournal account should belong to this community: an interview with DWJ in which she reveals which countries send her the most (and fewest) fanmail marriage proposals for Howl, and also mentions that Cat Chant of the Chrestomanci books is supposed to have some kind of autism. Interesting . . .
On the topic of actual writing, something I recently read has stuck in my mind. Writing, it said, creates an experience in which readers focus on the moment much more than people do in most of their everyday lives. I find this is true. Most of the time that I'm working, walking, exercising, cooking, and so on, my mind wanders, not just to conventional daydreams, but to things I'll do later, things I've read, things I've recently seen or done. I spend probably a very small portion of my day focused on what I'm doing right then, on my immediate surroundings, or on the emotions that those things elicit from me. When reading, however, I'm all about the moment that the characters are in.
I guess you can have a story in which the characters are themselves removed from their immediate realities. They can certainly plan, remember, and daydream. Technically, all flashback scenes are outside of the moment, although if the character is having a flashback, then we're still following along closely with what she's experiencing right now. In that sense, though, readers are in the moment with characters no matter what wacky internal side trips the characters take, because we're still following what's going through their heads right now. Strange that that could seem more immediate than a real person's actual daydream.
Still, practically speaking, I find most characters to spend most of the time that I'm reading about them at least somewhat focused on what's going on. I wonder if this is, in itself, a kind of escapism or vicarious thrill for readers. After all, most of the experiences that people wish they would have are things they would not tune out, things worth being fully present for. Maybe this is why people like to read about - and write about - others having experiences that make them mentally sit up and pay attention.