Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Motivating Power of Fantasies | Ellen Bourne



When I was a child I used to dream of living in a castle. It would be in England, or Canada. And the main part of my castle was my dream library tower/office. In my mind this was a circular room with a loft-style balcony office at the top. A small spiral staircase would lead up toward it and the walls would be stuffed with an enormous book collection, wheeled ladders would help me whizz around through my extensively organised and indexed library so that I could look up whatever I needed, author, myth, scientific theory, for whatever writing project I was working on at the time.

Strange that as a child I dreamed so often of a workspace, but then I was absolutely obsessed with writing. I knew by the age of six that I wanted to write books. I was determined.

My fantasy office would often motivate me, and I was so often motivated to write my way through shitty situations. Living in a small town, going to an unkind primary school and even less kind high-school, I would write. A lot. I had written and attempted to shop two manuscripts by the age of seventeen. One got through to having the full manuscript read by a literary agent in New York. At seventeen! Like I said, I was determined. I was consumed. Writing was the thing that was always there for me. I was completely adamant that it would become my career. That passion for writing and literature sparked my love of academia and creativity, which got me into university because trust me, though I was a smart kid I did not apply myself to traditional schooling very well.

When I left home for university I lived in an apartment with a group of people far too different to me, we didn’t get along. So I wrote. I wrote another manuscript. I’m still editing that one today, aged twenty-three. Though that manifestation of effort didn’t result in a grand, multi-million dollar book deal with an international publisher like I fantasised in my wildest dreams, the experience of that writing however, and the paid freelance journalism that I took up to express myself in the way I found I couldn’t through my university work or campus, gave me the ticket to move states and universities. I then moved to Melbourne and attended RMIT University.

What fantasies can offer us is much like what Neil Gaiman said fiction can offer us - an escape, and in that escape tools to arm us for what we need in order to get through the real world and motivate us to hone our craft. Fantasies of the day where we can live in an apartment with a French bulldog, or castle in the wilderness, and make enough money to live off the thing that makes us happy, might seem self-indulgent or 'wrong', but these are the things that help us build our careers and find meaningful work and activities. Fantasies can block out the distractions, like a room mate whose TV is too loud, or the naysayers who refuse to believe in the future success of a friend, thus helping us regain or get into our Flow.

Fantasies can motivate us so well. They can help us take an activity we love and show us paths that can mold that activity into something that works for us for more than just a therapeutic benefit. Fantasies can be creative, risk-free exercises that allow us to experiment with our lives, and offer visuals of the pro’s and con’s of certain choices, and an idea of what we want to do with ourselves before we’ve quite figured it out for sure. 


Xo,

Ellen