Thoughts from the Train (and the Magic of Books)

people-new-york-train-crowdSince moving to New Haven, I have become one of the faceless masses on the public transport system. For those of you who have only ever commuted by car (or vice versa), let me describe the differences to you (at least, for introverted me).

In the Car

I come from a long line of mechanics, racers, and car enthusiasts. As much as I love to say I’m helping the environment by taking the train, the truth is: I’m saving the mileage on my 16-year-old baby. (But two birds, right?)

In the car, it’s you and the machine versus the other anonymous automobiles. While you have to jostle for position on the interstate, you get to enjoy your isolated, little bubble, filled with your music or audiobooks, or delicious silence. No one sits next to you uninvited. No one’s obnoxious phone conversations intrude. No strange bodily odors invade (and if they do, that’s on you).

On the Train

Your hands are free and the stress of traffic is but a distant memory. If you can snag a seat or a pole to hang on to, the ride is relatively smooth. When listening to music, daydreaming out the window, or reading, the time flies. But…you have to deal with the people. The flirty train conductor. The fast-talking business man. The snoring college student.

While prolonged, close contact with strangers isn’t my favorite experience, I’ve learned to deal. But there’s one aspect of ‘train culture’ that continues to get under my skin. It’s an attitude most Americans (and I daresay, most people) share, but I’ve never felt it quite as strongly as when I am immersed in a crowd of disgruntled souls.

It’s like ‘the Mondays,’ only everyday.

People on the train are freaking miserable. While talking on their phones, they complain to their loved ones about their jobs. While waiting for the doors to open, they grumble with fellow commuters. While getting their tickets stamp, they bemoan another day at the office.

And I sit there, with my computer on my lap, and I grow smug. After all, I’m going to escape the day job grind – one day – and until then, I actually enjoy my job. But the smugness never lasts. It is quickly replaced by empathy. Not everyone has the shiny dream of entrepreneurship to keep them going. Some people have failed in their goals and given up. Others never dare to imagine a more fulfilling career for themselves. I had those days, too.

book magicThis is why, among a thousand other reasons, I write books.

The happiest people on the train? From their wide, absorbed eyes and the faint smiles playing on their lips, my guess is the readers. And I know, I’m one. Books make the commute fly by. They provide temporary relief from stress (seriously – science backs this up), and offer an escape from our reality.

As women’s fiction author Fia Essen said in her review of The Cogsmith’s Daughter:

“Fiction, at its best, should take you away from your own reality. It should make you forget about your daily grind. It should keep you thinking about it, making you want to go back for more, as you stand in line at the supermarket, bank, or the post office.”

Or on the train. Knowing that I could offer Fia a temporary retreat, even for a few hours, is one of my proudest accomplishments as an author. And I hope I can do that with my life.

But it’s selfish, too.

My books don’t just provide my readers with escape. They allow me to escape, too. How can I possibly worry about the catalog spreads I have to crank out when I’ve got to help Aya avoid King Archon’s clutches? Or Dellwyn chase down a mysterious stalker?

Whether writing or reading, books are magic. In a single page, they allow us to fall in love, solve a murder, or swim in the ocean. They are movies playing out in our minds, and while the words we read are all the same, the images and emotions they conjure are completely our own.

If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

The catch? As wonderful as books are, they are only ever a temporary escape. I’ll say to you what my introverted personality would never let me say to the strangers on the train – reading is great, happiness is better, and together they are sublime.

Figure out your passion. Write down goals that will fulfill you. Then work your ass off until you meet them.

It may take days. It may take years. It may never happen. But take it from someone who is there every morning…

Working for your dreams is a thousand times more fulfilling than giving up on them.

And achieving them? Well, I’ll let you know.


What books have rescued you from the daily grind? What dreams are you working toward? Share below!

Advertisements

Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things
6 comments on “Thoughts from the Train (and the Magic of Books)
  1. amo says:

    Very well put. And this: “Knowing that I could offer Fia a temporary retreat, even for a few hours, is one of my proudest accomplishments as an author.” That’s exactly what I was aiming for when I published my books: if I can give one other person a few hours of pleasure, I’ve achieved my goal. And that’s happened already – I need to keep that in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You certainly did that for me! And you bring up an excellent point. So often we get caught up in everything else that we forget those moments of accomplishment (or forget we’ve met our goals altogether!) as we focus on the next objective. A good reminder to stop and smell the roses…er, book pages?

      Liked by 1 person

      • amo says:

        Smell the book pages – haha. Jean Little, a visually impaired author (award-winning children’s lit), said the smell of books was really important to her, because she had to hold books right up to her nose to be able to see the words. She’d agree with you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mirymom says:

    Reblogged this on Mirymom's Blog and commented:
    I’ve wondered what people who don’t read do when they are waiting. How sad not to be able to lose yourself in a story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very encouraging. Still working toward my writing goals, etc., but I am working toward it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Fiction Fans: Join My Reader List

Two emails a month with...
1) Sneak peeks of new books
2) Behind-the-scenes content
3) First notice on special deals

button

Get your FREE booklet
100 Blogging Ideas for Fiction Writers

SIGN UP for my Writing Newsletter today!

Buy Signed Books
Click the Books tab on the menu
What I’m Reading
Tweet Me
My Instagram Feed
Having a "Dark & Stormy" at the site of the Boston Tea Party! (Spiced rum, ginger beer, and lime)
%d bloggers like this: