Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Danger of Fantasy

Photo by King of Ants .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
Fantasy can be used as a tool to help one navigate the passage from the comfortable cocoon of childhood and adolescence to the (at times) stark reality of adulthood.  Fantasy frames what could be perceived as the pointless and brutal struggle of living in the more comforting terms of an epic quest.  Fantasy, when used according to its greatest purpose, helps people cope with and interpret reality: it adds meaning to their lives, enriching them.  

But is there a dark side to fantasy?  I'm afraid the answer is yes.  An overindulgence in fantasy can leave a person un-moored from the realities of life.  And this can cause people to turn toward negative behaviors like addiction.  By overindulging in fantasy I believe a person gradually replaces a foundation of empirical reality with one based on imagination.  Instead of fantasy providing a frame of reference for reality, it becomes a false reality. 

Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain I've witnessed a person traveling down this negative path.  This experience is probably the reason why I haven't written much in recent days.  It's hard when a person that you cherish and that you feel is composed of similar "DNA" to your own comes off the rails of life.  Because of this, I've been doing a lot of soul searching to reassure myself that I'm not heading down a self-delusional path myself.

I've emerged from this recent "funk" with renewed confidence that a moderate indulgence in fantasy is indeed virtuous.  But I also now have a direct understanding that overindulgence can be very dangerous.  I'm still thinking about what impact these recent experiences will have on my fantasy writing.  I've thought of a few things already--and they will be "baked" into Hemlock Book III (both consciously and unconsciously).

In the meantime, if you are a lover of fantasy like I am, just make sure to keep your feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.  Whatever your reality is--it's fundamentally OK.  Even if you're in an adverse environment--it's best to accept that fact and chart a course toward better climes.  Fantasy can help you chart that course, and to persevere while on your quest.  Use it wisely and in moderation, and be careful out there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Photo by Okko P .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
I am taking a bit of a break from writing, and settling into a routine of work, socializing, and playing a really addictive video game (Minecraft multi-player).  I am still "working" on the next Hemlock novel though.  I have been getting a lot of ideas for the story and dutifully writing them all down.  At some point soon I will probably work up a formal outline of the plot and character arcs and try to pull all of my ideas together into  something cohesive.  But this next step probably won't happen until the fall.  I'm just in one of those interstitial phases where I need to re-charge my writing batteries.

I'm not sure if other writers take extended breaks like this.  But I know I'm just not ready to begin writing the new novel yet.  I tend to need a break between big projects.  And I'm loathe to get too distracted by side writing projects because I *am* working on the next Hemlock novel in the sense that I am in the process of  imagining it.  I've blogged about how I come up with story ideas before, so I won't go into detail about that other than saying that it feels more like a process of discovery than a process of invention.  And the discovery process just takes some time...

So I don't have a lot to report about writing other than to say that I am very excited about finally writing Hemlock III despite not being in much of a hurry to actually begin writing it.  It's going to deliver in terms of wrapping up Hemlock's story.  But (and this was a revelation to me last week) it may not be the end of Hemlock's story.  There could be additional books beyond III.  But III is going to represent a major, major resolution to the conflicts in the series.  Anything that comes beyond Book III will have to be something of a "reboot" of the "universe".  But it will be possible.  And only a week before I was convinced it wouldn't be! So I did get some new ideas, obviously.

I hope you are having a good summer wherever you are!