I talk to people in person about my writing almost every week now. EVERY time someone asks me about my book it usually goes something like this:
Person: “Rachael, I saw on Facebook [I heard] you are writing a book. What’s it about?”
Me: (Starts to sweat. Thinks, how do I explain this in simple and interesting terms?!) “Oh, you know . . .” (more sweat, less eye contact) “Well, it’s about this princess – oh, and a prince. And, they, um, they are about to be married when the princess’ beauty is stolen. But, not just her outer beauty . . . her inner beauty, too. Her love. She is ugly and not nice.” (Thinks to self that I sound ridiculous) “They have to go on a quest to get her beauty . . . her love back.”
Person: (stares without immediate response) “That sounds interesting.” (some people are actually more expressive and say things like, “That’s great. I look forward to reading it.” That sort of thing. Very polite.) “What made you decide to write a book?”
Me: (feeling awkward and tongue tied. Still can’t make solid eye-contact) That’s a nice plant. The floor pattern is geometric. Come on! Focus! “I, um, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but this story just kind of hit me last December, early January, and I had to write it.”
Person: “Wow. Well, good luck!”
This is only one variation of the conversation I end up having, but the point is that people are so kind to me, and I end up feeling like I look like an idiot, who can’t make eye contact, with a lame story.
Writer friends- I’ve written out a couple different synopses-type explanations, but how on earth can I get over this nonsense? I know it’s not far from the mark that I am an idiot (I’m willing to admit this because I’ve proved it on too many occasions), but I don’t think my story is lame. I freak out every time I try to describe it to someone without telling them the whole story. I get nervous and it’s like I can’t find the right words to describe anything, let alone a story that has been poured out of me.
This brings me to the question of the blog post. Why did I choose to write this story as fantasy fiction? Here’s the thing, my story, if it weren’t what it is, could have been set in a completely real and natural-laws based part of the world. Except, it can’t be. “What?” you say.
The subject matter than I deal with in my book is not something physical, and in order to tell my story, I needed a little magic. Some may argue that magic truly exists. I think there is a spiritual world hidden all around us, but I wouldn’t say it exists as we think of magic. Magic is a tricky thing to deal with and one that I have struggled with endorsing at the adult level. I am never sure how I feel about encouraging the belief in such a thing, but when it comes to telling a story about things that have spiritual and soulful applications, it makes the telling more simple and comprehensible.
Fantasy is a good home for telling stories that dive into our inner-selves, past the physical interactions of people to the deepest recesses of our hearts. My book is such a story. In fantasy writing, I can make the world whatever I want, however I want. I can build upon the essential things the story needs to tell about without being limited by the “real” world.
I can take from the “real” world those things that help us stay connected to the story, but I can add things “unreal” to the story to cause a physical representation of the souls of mankind. It can give good and evil an actual face. I can use fantasy to portray love in a way that wakes our imaginations to see the width and depth of real love.
In fantasy, I can show you what I mean when I say that a heart without love or hope is an empty life. Without a little magic to help me, I don’t know how else to show you this kind of emptiness in a very physical way. So, that is why I chose to make my story fantasy and that is why magic is present in this made-up world. I want to show you this real-world truth with pictures instead of just words . . . fantasy has taken the words and painted a picture for us to see . . . a fantastical parable.
My friend, what are you thoughts on fantasy and magic? Please share!