Writing to Cope and to Hope
By Brian Burt
I've been writing speculative fiction for decades. Every idea has its own unique genesis: some are pure flights of fancy, inspired by a random daydream or a weird collision of unrelated ideas; others germinate from seeds planted in our own secret gar dens, from deeply personal, hidden places. My contribution to Tales from the Dream Zone — "Mist at Twilight" — grew from such a place. For me, that’s the exception, which makes it hard to think about and talk about. But, then, writing is about sharing our thoughts and experiences with the reader… so here goes nothing.
My mom recently lost her long battle with Alzheimer's, finally passing late last year. It devastated me to watch this cruel disease slowly steal her away from us and from herself. From many conversations before she became ill, I know this particular disease terrified her more than anything. Year after year, I watched it eat away at her essential self and felt powerless to help. So I took advantage of the special refuge writing offers: the chance to create an alternate reality where limitations can be shattered, where some of the pain of real life can be drawn from your heart and injected into you words to tell a different story. Did this change things? Not really. But I sure found it therapeutic. In "Mist at Twilight," I could live vicariously through a brilliant neuroscientist willing to risk everything to rescue her father from the fog swallowing him up. I could escape into a world where Alzheimer's sufferers aren't lost irretrievably… and are once again given control of their own fates. And I could hope that this world might resonate with readers facing similar tragedies in their own lives, might give them at least a tiny bit of relief.
At the end of the day, it's just a story… but it helped me to cope and to hope at a time when I was really struggling. In my own writing, the scariest journeys are the ones that start closest to home. But I think these are also the tales most likely to ring true to others. I don't know if anyone else will take solace in "Mist at Twilight," but I know the writer did, at least a little. Sharing your deepest pain or darkest fears can be pretty terrifying, but also liberating. Every writer weaves a pinch of these secret ingredients into their work. That's why I love anthologies like Tales from the Dream Zone: they give us a chance to sample a rich variety of dishes, guaranteed to have something for every appetite, and to maybe discover a new favorite dish or chef!
You are welcome to read Brian Burt's short story, "Mist at Twilight," in our recent publication, Tales From the Dream Zone, available now on Amazon! Don't forget to keep an eye out for Burt's next short story, "Neptune's Children," featured in Tales from the Deep, coming out in 2021!
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