All creative writers go through this genesis, of creating something from nothing. But it is never quite nothing. We give birth to ideas, stories and characters from the primordial heavens, inspired by memories, experiences, moments where our attention is drawn to something different from the norm. Sometimes these things are the unimportant detritus of life, things no-one else notices. But from these odd fragments we absorb and remember, treasuring them quietly while the story builds in our heads.
It seemed right for me to start on this topic. The very beginning. Where does the spark come from? What made me, and many others pick up a pen and start scribbling frantically? For me it happened so early I guess it was just ‘normal’ to have all these thoughts wandering around my head. English was my favourite subject at School, and writing short stories the best bit of all.
I sometimes step back and wonder why I wanted to write, and why fantasy in particular? Science fiction holds no attraction for me, and general fiction seems too much like the ‘normal’ world. You could say it’s the epic, larger than life nature of fantasy stories, the drama of conflicts both large and small, the exotic worlds and races. Then I remembered my grandfather reading me Aesop’s Fables as a child, and it all made sense.
I think it comes down to a desire to reinforce the stories humans have told since we were hunter gatherers around camp fires. About right and wrong. Good and evil. The fantasy genre is steeped in these messages, and finds many ways to examine and elaborate on them. In a real world where many are disillusioned with religion, fantasy literature perpetuates the belief in gods who are just, and the (usual) triumph of good over evil.
I think there are lessons to learn in examining what drives you as a writer, because when the ideas and stories and plots become too gargantuan and take over, the message can be lost. I learnt that after a while. It was all about the big vision, the epic story. Wars, magic, intrigue. But later I came to understand that it’s the human message which is most important. Who are the characters? What is their journey? These stories are all about our personal human struggles with the world (real or imagined), a primeval battle against forces outside our control.
We like to hear that good can triumph, though it doesn’t always. It’s a question of faith. When the real world rarely offers happy endings, it gives us a sense of satisfaction that all is well. That we can believe.
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