I think I have white knight syndrome, a need to rescue people. This can be and has been literal rescue–hauling someone with an injury out of a wilderness environment. It can also be a desire to help my friends through tough times. And, weirdly enough, now helping people I don’t even know by providing escapes into fiction.
Books were a crucial part of my childhood. I was anomalous in a tiny Southern town that didn’t quite know what to do with me. I didn’t want to hunt, fish, or go mudding. My lifelong vegetarianism left a few people scratching their heads and deepened the divide. I had a thirst for the world, for worlds I could never see. And books were a window into places I starved for, a way to see the possibilities around me. I knew I didn’t want to go to Wal-Mart for fun or spend humid days in beat-up boats on stagnant water. But what more was there?
I immersed myself in every free moment, and it was encouraged. Who’s going to tell their kid not to read books? I ran through the local libraries’ pitiful sci-fi fantasy sections and was forced to expand my reading selections for lack of options. I read literature, children’s series, trashy romances, poetry–anything I could get my hands on. Running out of things to read was the absolute worst, and as I grew older, more adept at foraging for books, I had a Scarlett O’Hara bookworm moment–As God is my witness, I’ll never go without books again. And I haven’t. I chuckle about my need for new material to fill my mind, piles of books in every room that I haven’t read yet, that I’m looking forward to. They are my comfort objects–at least one in every room, sometimes ten or more. Three in my van. One in my purse. A library on my phone. You get the picture.
I eventually came to realize that one can be just as addicted to books as anything else–video games, television, drinking, phones. It’s a healthier distraction, but one to pursue in moderation. And I knew that I wanted to be a person who spends her life creating, not just consuming. As soon as that thought penetrated my mind, it wouldn’t die. And, like any avid reader, I know the value in escaping rough days in the scent of pages and ink, in a world different from my own. I had no choice after that. Characters, their friends, their problems–all wouldn’t leave my thoughts. And I hope that my new worlds provide a needed reprieve from life’s stresses for some of you, that I can briefly be a white knight.