Why Fantasy and Where I’m At

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Fantasy is a genre with infinite possibilites.

Even more infinite than science fiction. SF has its roots in today, projecting forward from what is now (or rewriting history from some known point in the past). SF follows the known rules, even when it is making up new ones. When you write SF, you can make up new knowledge, new tech, new species, and new worlds, but there are still limits. I love reading (and occasionally writing) SF because there is no better medium to share an idea or raise questions. I love to catch a glimpse of something that has incredible implications and wonder about them for days.

But you can do anything in a fantasy (which is much more than medieval knights and dragons or trolls and dwarves and elves). Far from being a cheat, this makes it a challenging genre to write in, because whatever you come up with, you have to make it believable and relatable. But if you can do that, you can do anything, and that’s a very freeing experience.

I like to write fantasy because I can make up worlds and magic that bring up possibilities that could never be imagined otherwise. I can make the intangible real, the ethereal tangible, the accepted ridiculous, and no one will think twice. I can create cultures and pit them against each other to explore humanity without having to draw on our sad, true past. There’s no baggage in my new world that I don’t put there. A distant, strange world is the perfect backdrop to magnify and explore the real problems in this world. If you aren’t preachy about it, you can slip past the defenses and opinions everyone has to explore issues that would be too painful or controversial to talk about in the here and now.

Plus, how cool is a city inside a mountain and a forest full of man-eating plants? Or the ability to give bits of your life away, literally? (I mean, it’s what we do anyway, but in my book it’s so much more direct and cool. At least, I think so)

So where am I in the real world this week?

This new book is progressing, but it is progressing painfully. And slowly. In fact, I am wading through some sort of story quagmire, in the fog.

The words themselves are fine; once I decide what the scene is the sentences fall down just like they always have. I still love the concept and the characters. But the story itself is not forming up as nicely as King’s Mark did. Things aren’t just falling into place with that neat little click. It isn’t a block, per say, since I am making some progress. But perhaps it is igneous rock, where little bits of story drip through but the majority is stuck on the other side.

Maybe it just needs more percolating time – I realized over the past week that I need another character in it from the beginning, so clearly I don’t have it all formed up. Or perhaps I need to force it, sit down and outline it more concretely (although my attempts to do that for this story have not had satisfying outcomes). I don’t know. But there is progress, slow though it is, and that is all I’m demanding of myself just now. It’s spring, my job is crazy, I’m working on setting a new sleep schedule… maybe I’m just feeling tired. Anyway. That’s where I’m at.

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