This might be the most transcendent capacity of consciousness and the most terrifying: that in the world of the mind, we can construct models of the natural world built upon theories of exquisite internal consistency; that those theories can have zero external validity when tested against reality; and that we rarely get to try them, or wish to test them. Just ask Ptolemy.
In its clinical manifestation, we call this tendency delusion. In its creative expression, we call it art — the novel, the story, the poem, the song are each a model, an imagistic impression of the world not as it is but as the maker pictures it to be, inviting us to step into this imaginary world to understand the real, including ourselves better.
Because we are always partly opaque to ourselves even at our most self-aware, fiction and real-life have something extraordinary in common, wonderful and disorienting: the ability to surprise even the author — of the story or the life.
Both are a form of walking through the half-mapped territory of being, real or imagined, making the path in the act of walking and revising the map with each step.