I love immersion fantasies. I love stories where ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary situations. It might have started with Narnia for me, but I doubt it: while I loved those books, they seemed out of date even when I read them in the 1970s. For me, it was Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, Joan Aiken, writers who took seemingly ordinary kids like me out of their unhappy lives (and didn't we all have such unhappy Ives?) and put us into some perilous fantasy world. Whether or not we would save the world or just our little corner of it was irrelevant, and in fact I came to enjoy more stories that just dealt with a little corner of the world rather than the whole thing. Possibly I came to this preference because somewhere in the back of my mind I was always at least half sure that some interesting adventure waited for me to discover it. I still am hassle convinced that some adventure waits for me, and I'm not even embarrassed to admit it any more. Part of the reason I'm able to write stories about slipping away from the world is that even in my forties, I'm still a believer.
Various people I've talked to over the years are sure that this half-belief of mine is somehow pathological. Obviously, I'm crazy--this fact is documented--but I don't think it's my rich fantasy life that makes me crazy.
There are various tropes in the world of writing instruction that tell us things like, "show, don't tell," and "write what you know," and I'm a believer in those things, too. When I write intensely, I am in the world of my creation. It makes sense to me because it makes sense, and it's internal cohesion is as understandable and internal to me as the fact of gravity or the truth of the heartbeat. When I received my marks on this term's writing assignment, which I think I've already noted were lower than I'd hoped for, one of my instructors gave me a lovely compliment on the mechanics of time travel in "Who Is Like God?". There was, my instructor said, so much conflict there was none. I didn't explain it because of course it made sense. Well...yes. It did make sense. Now, the fact that the other instructor didn't like the story at all didn't faze me in the negative way it might have done once. Instead, I read the conflicting opinions with interest and imagined them on a larger scale. If that story got published somewhere, and I guess I really ought to try that, comments from readers and reviewers might run the gamut, but I've already had two people I respect and admire disagree on the worthiness of the story. Although obviously it's a course and instructors are expected to comment on my work, there's something powerful about having your work discussed. I wonder if that means I'd be better at handling reviews than I was back during my horrible experience with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Now, I have to start thinking toward the autumn and the challenges to come. We will be expected to write a novel in 90 days in the spring. Our short course on characterisation will be a challenge, and then we are off into one of my favourite topics, setting. We are also invited to audit the first-year courses, and I intend to do that, work schedule allowing; nobody needs practice writing consistently more than I do. And then it's dissertation time, and then I have an MA and an option to pursue a PhD, something I've dreamed about since I first started college in the 1980s. So what if i don't take the accepted path? So what if I'm not thirty any more? And so what if nobody's really sure what the purpose of a PhD in writing is. I can think of lots of purposes for it, and I look forward to exploring as many of them as I have time to explore in the time I have left to believe in fairies.
A ramble on my writing blog? That doesn't happen often, it's true. I'm starting to think of moving this blog somewhere else, too. It's that kind of night. Anyway. Talking about writing is sometimes almost as interesting as writing itself.
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