I can’t help but be amazed at the number of wannabe fantasy writers there are. I’m mean, we’re a dime a dozen if the number of posts in the NaNoWriMo fantasy forums are any indication. Cheap. The riff-raff or, at best the middle class of the wannabe writer world. I can picture this giant Statue of Liberty like monument carved in the likeness of J.K.Rowlings: “Give me your wishful, wistful and wannabe unwashed masses yearning to be like me…” How fruitful we are and, oh, how we multiply.
I wonder if it has to do with childhood wonder of that one book which led us to fall in love with the genre. For me, it was Mallory’s Le Morte D’arthur, then Lord of the Rings, then Dune, then Hyboria, blah-blah. Nearly the same path taken by so many others, but with variations additions and/or deletions, I’m sure: a lay over in Wonderland, a brief stay in Castle Brass, a country holiday in Narnia, a stint in Pellucindar.
Maybe it’s party due to the perception that prior experience or background knowledge is unnecessarily. “Come on in, the water’s fine!” As it all comes from the imagination therefore special knowledge about history, science, law, forensics, physiology or growing seasons, how to sew clothes, how far a peterbuilt can go on a single fueling or the effects of a hollow point on a lathe plaster wall is not required. I mean, it’s all about magic and imagination. So what if I don’t know how a sewer or aqueduct works? It’s my world and I can make it work however I want it to, no prior experience necessary.
Sometimes though, save in a few notable acceptations, I get the feeling that we’re seen as the third class citizens of the writing world. Consider the reaction of fellow wanna-be writers of other genres when they discover a wannabe writer of the fantasy ilk in their midst. I got this one just the other night at a NaNo write-in.
(indent)“What genre are you writing?”
(indent)“Oh.” What? Not, “Oh really? Wow, that’s great. I’m writing a _____ about blah-blah-blah. What is your fantasy about?”
(indent)No. We get “Oh.”
And what is really ironic is that even wannabe fantasy authors offer this same reaction to each other! They act as if they’re upset over, “…another one diluting the genre gene pool” afraid that there’s only so much room.
Ever notice how wannabe fantasy authors love to one up each other? If the conversation ever gets beyond the ‘oh’ phase someone is bound to say, “…that reminds me of the plot from Amazing Fantasy Book, by Amazing Fantasy Writer. It’s just like that.” God, I hate that…particularly because I’m guilty of it! Sometimes I think it’s because we feel a bit less important and so we over compensate. We develop an over inflated sense of ourselves and the originality of our stories that if we tell anyone about them, we run the risk of someone stealing them. Hell, we don’t even need the high Fellowship muckity-mucks to make ourselves feel like low level literary street trash; we do it ourselves just fine thank you very much! Another one of those ironic, both positive and negative, things unique to the genre is its built-in army, a horde of pre-teen and adolescent barbarians rallying to its standard. Who will damn near read anything (thank you She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Prior to 1997, I thought my students had quite forgotten how to read!) accept classics and think each one they read is “…my favorite book ever…” As a direct result, I can’t count how many 13 year old fantasy scifi ‘authors’ I’ve read about or met since NaNo started.
I guess it makes sense though. 13 year olds, for the most part, don’t have the ‘deep experience’ required by the Fellowship Fiction Folk to write about sophisticated laundry lists and such, so they go where they can just make shit up: fantasy. As suggested above, at first they don’t need anything to tell their stories. I suppose there maybe something to that.
Anyway, it’s time to get back to my own peculiar form of sickness and get my word count up from its presently anemic levels. More than a new manuscript, I must confess, I want the 50% savings on Scrivener for the 50k victory. So, where was I…oh yes.
Once upon a time there was a bunch of elves, dwarves and guys with furry feet who used to be dragon riders but had somehow forgotten about it until a widowed princess emerged unscathed from a smoking conflagration suckling three baby lizards…
Those teeth have got to hurt.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.