Jilly: Getting Away From It All

It’s a holiday weekend here. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and we’re in limbo, waiting for the corona-crisis to be resolved or at least assimilated into our post-pandemic daily lives. Wherever you are, I hope you’re safe and well.

Usually around now people in the UK get the first inkling that summer is around the corner. That promises vacation, relaxation, maybe a change of scenery, perhaps a beach read or two. Except this year relaxation is not an option, and the scenery is depressingly familiar. Mr. W and I had tickets to visit San Francisco at the end of July for RWA Nationals. We expected to meet up with California-based friends and to enjoy a civilized meander down the coast with Kay. Clearly none of that will happen. We’ll be lucky if we’re allowed to hop on a train and visit friends and family outside London.

Many of my friends have reported increased cabin fever lately, and I wonder if at least some of it is down to the loss of that holiday promise, the anticipation of a treat or just the idea, the possibility of something new. Chez Jilly we’d have shared days and weeks’ worth of fun planning our road trip, investigating possibilities online, talking to Kay about places to stay, discussing landmarks to visit, imagining food and wine we might sample. Planning a vacay is like a free holiday-before-the-holiday, with only the good bits—no budget constraints, no sunburn, and no jet lag. I think being robbed of that fantasy is almost as bad as missing out on the trip itself. Continue reading

Jilly: Delivering Narrative Transportation

Lost In A BookHow easily do you get lost in a book? Do you get so deeply engaged that you feel slightly disoriented when you return to your own life?

I’ve always found it easy to slip into a story world, and I usually dive in so deeply that I am completely lost to reality. It causes me some problems. I have to be careful about reading on public transport: missing my stop could be the least of my worries. I remember once, many years ago, waiting for a train from Paris to Lyon and making sure I had both arms through my backpack and the pack itself wedged securely against a wall because I was reading Nancy Mitford’s Love In A Cold Climate and I knew once I cracked open the cover any bystander could have helped themselves to my stuff and I wouldn’t have noticed a thing.

I discovered recently that this phenomenon has a name. Apparently psychologists call it narrative transportation, and research confirms that readers who experience it do actually enter the story world and become detached from reality in a physiological sense. Continue reading