“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
Sometimes our brains get stuck. We look at a problem and see only one solution, refusing to alter the course of our focus. When we try to think outside the box, to drum up new routes of approach, our minds go blank, often painfully so. We see one truth and one truth only.
What do teachers do when a student is having trouble understanding a concept? They present a new perspective.
Have you ever had that happen before? Where you agonized over something for hours, days, years, only for someone to present a new possibility, a possibility so simple, so clear, that it seemed to be staring you in the face from the beginning. It is as if our minds make invisible the options, so certain, so blind we are in our current way of thinking.
Yet even as our minds grow stiff, unyielding in their bondage, we crave liberation. The immeasurable depths of our minds desire to be explored, their limits pushed and tested. It is a rare person who is so familiar with ones own mind, who challenges their own thinking, who can discover these depths on their own. Most of us need a catalyst.
For me, fantasy if often that catalyst.
I used to believe that I loved fantasy just for the escape. When reading of far off lands, stocked with compelling adventures and exotic people, my brain begins to relax. It tells itself,
“All of this is fake, a grand story that I do not need to protect myself from, far set from reality.”
So I dive in, no reservations, no perspectives. Yet, it is in those moments, those stories, that I find truths in my reality.
- In Harry Potter, I learned about friendship, the power of loyalty, and that courage lies in the heart of even the smallest of creatures.
- In The Way of Kings, I learned the value of discipline, the importance of self-forgiveness, and that the most effective leaders are often the most humble.
- While reading the Throne of Glass, I found pride in being a woman, and learned that my compassion and care for people is what makes me strong.
Over and over again, these books, and many more, have changed my perspectives, sneaking truths into my mind that shake me from the mud I have wedged myself in. Fantasy teaches us new ways to look at our lives, exaggerating truths in ways that manage to slap us in the face hard enough to finally sink in.
As Stephen King once wrote, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie”.
As a writer, this statement has become even more evident to me in its validity. My fiction is nothing but truth masquerading around in vibrant colors, trying to distract you from the fact that it is actually the same plain-clothed, difficult lessons that your brain has refused to believe about life. (Not to kill any interest you may have had in reading my book, I promise, the vibrant costume is magnificent).
Fantasy makes truth more palatable, coating it with delicious sugar, making it easier to swallow even as the medicine underneath works to heal you from the inside out. If you are a good writer, readers won’t even realize they have taken any medicine at all. They will finish your book changed, not by you the author, but by the characters, by the world, and by the story.
It is my hope that my story will affect people profoundly. That they will fall into Salir, walk alongside Talvenesh as he discovers his world, laugh, cry, weep, and hope, but most of all, I hope that when they set the book aside complete, that their life would shine a little brighter than it had before.
*Harry Potter written by J.K. Rowling
*The Way of Kings written by Brandon Sanderson
*Throne of Glass written by Sarah J. Maas