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 By Susan Roberts

I used to feel sorry for old people who turned senile and drifted into a fantasy world. I pitied those who muttered to themselves as they walked past, not really seeing me. And then I became a writer and joined their ranks. Now I wander around in my own fantasy world, conducting imaginary conversations between the characters in my head. I don’t really care if people look at me with pity, because in my head I’m having a wonderful time creating my next book.

Of course, it doesn’t help that age has crept up on me too, and that the old woman in my bathroom mirror doesn’t reflect the young person I know I am inside. Whatever lies the mirror tells about my outer shell, writing keeps me young inside, because the characters I create are younger than me.

They are also better looking, and luckier in love.

At the end of each novel, they emerge battered, bruised, but triumphant, from underground tunnels, medieval castles or military hospitals, and run or sail off into beautiful sunsets, wiser than they were in the beginning. That’s because I’ve allowed them to escape death, survive ordeals by fire, elude kidnappers and prevent great works of art from falling into the wrong hands. They deserve their happy endings; they’ve worked hard for them and so have I.

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with a fantasy world!

In fact, I have three different fantasy worlds into which I retreat daily. I write as soon as I wake up each morning, before the day intrudes. Armed with my first pot of tea, I indulge in my current writing project until my alarm tells me it’s time to get ready for the real job; the one that pays the bills. Driving to work takes 25 minutes and allows me my second fantasy – the audio book in my car. That saga continues at the end of the day when I travel home.

There are some who would tell you that my working life is in a fantasy world too, and I suppose they could be right. I work as a production manager in a local theatre, but putting together a staged production that allows the public to escape into a fantasy is neither as glamorous nor as easy as most people imagine. However, in my numerically-challenged mind it beats being an accountant or a banker, and I wouldn’t still be doing this after thirty years if I didn’t enjoy it, would I?

My final fantasy is late at night, when I lie in bed with my beloved… Kindle! Yes, sad though it sounds, I rely on the writings of others to relax me and send me into slumber at the end of the day.

Sometimes I think that only children and old people know that the real way to cope with life is to indulge in fantasy. Well– children, old people and writers.

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