My sophomore year of college, I wrote a short fiction piece based on one of the story worlds I created. The story itself wasn’t all that great, and looking back on it now it had many flaws—a major one being it existed to support another story, not exist as a story itself.
But my professor asked one important question to all the people critiquing me in our workshop: “Why is this story a fantasy?” Why did it need to be a fantasy? Why couldn’t take place in the real world?
Well, other than the fact that evil sorcerers who shoot fire from their hands don’t exist in the real world, there was one simple reason why it was a fantasy: I wanted it to be.
But, with my Advanced Creative Writing class around the corner—and fears resurfacing of being challenged because I’m choosing to write quote-on-quote Genre fiction. I need to ask myself again, why do I love fantasy and why do I want to write it?
Well there is one simple answer for that: I hate the real world.
I hate the restraints reality forces on us. I hate how we are supposed to act in a certain way and how people give me strange looks when I talk about the things that interest me. I don’t care for sports and the mundanity that life pushes on me just has no interest.
That is why I love fantasy. I’m not bound to this world, I’m free to do what I wish and explore places I’ve never been before. From childhood, I loved exploring the worlds of strange creatures in Pokemon and Digimon. I loved discovering new possibilities in adapting science to magic in Fullmetal Alchemist. I loved the feeling of exploration and the unlimited cosmos that can come in the fantasy genre.
It was an escape, true, but I’ve learned more about reality from the realm of fantasy than I would ever get from even the literary classics (though, now as I grow older, I’ve come to appreciate them more).
Fantasy, for me, is the exploration of what “could” be. And for me, fantasy worlds have become just as much reality as world I live in now. In fact, I relate more to them. I feel more natural telling a story from a boy mix-breed boy who struggles to find identity in a fantasy world far more than trying to limit it to the realities of this one.
So for me, fantasy is not pop fiction. It’s not a cheap cop out from real creativity. It’s the pursuit of discovering a world far beyond the limited reality which we’re caught up in. It’s placing it in a familiar reality where we can easily identify, and embrace deeper truths of life that we tend to reject.
Keep reading fantasy. Keep writing fantasy. Let the genre expand beyond the cheap stereotype many English teachers label it to be. Let it shine and change the hearts of men, women, and children alike so we can show truth in deeper ways than reality permits us.