You could say we either love it or we hate it. And that's often true.
But it's much too complicated a relationship for such a simple dichotomy. Almost all of us loved fantasy as children. It's after childhood that we often come to fall into one of the love-hate camps.
You might have given it up as an adult, or you may have turned against it even as an older young person. Or you might never give up your love of fantasy. You might read SF or game or make your living as a film maker or screenwriter. But eventually it swings around, and even the biggest fantasy haters come to appreciate it again—for their children or grandchildren.
The odd thing isn't that some people give it up in adulthood, it's how much they come to hate it. They become fantasy haters.
But I say those people still subject themselves to as much fantasy as someone who reads fantasy novels. They are addicted to romantic comedies (pure fantasy), or to pornography (total fantasy), or any number of other socially accepted pass-times that are clearly desperate wish-fullfillment fantasy playing out underneath a false veneer of reality. And personally, I think that kind of fantasy is actually harmful, or at least dubiously helpful, as it tries so hard to pretend to be reality that people get confused and disillusioned and become deeply dissatisfied because their life doesn't look like the lives in those fictitious fantasies. No one carries shame because they aren't as bad-assed as Conan the Barbarian, but how many people are emotionally crippled because they don't look like models?
For several years I tried to capture an idea for a short story based on this dynamic of love/hate, in notes and outlines. Every time I'd work on it, I would come up with ideas for how to turn it into a story, but they never felt right. That's because the concept behind it is so personal to me. I want to champion healthy, uplifting, refreshing, empowering and entertaining use of the imagination for people of all ages.
So it sat and languished, a spark of potential always flaring but never catching fire [tiny violins play a wailing pity concerto for me. Grin].
A couple years ago there was a writing contest I really wanted to submit to, so I sat down and—finally—was able to write the story. Partly I think because the contest was max. 2,500 words. I'd never written anything that short before, fiction that is. And in some ways it was easier to try and get it out in so few words than when I was imagining a much longer short story, or a screenplay. There is always power is trimming something down to its bare essentials to really get at the heart, or the meat, as they say, of the matter. I thought: 2,500 words is five 500 word sections. With only five short sections to convey the whole story in, I realized I could move the narrative forward in time, rather than explore the characters in more depth at one point in time, and the whole thing worked much better. I started with the characters as children, advanced to high school, then on to when they are post-college age young adults, and at the twenty year high school reunion time, and ended twenty years after that. That way the story came full-circle as those children, who had all loved fantasy in their play, were now past all the hate and just wanted to see their grandkids having fun.
I've submitted it three or four times to contests and publications with no success. I know it's too soon to say no one wants to buy or publish it, but I guess because it's so personal, I wonder if anyone else gets it. Maybe it's too...me.
If anyone is interested in the subject matter of the story, and would like to read it, let me know. I'd be happy to share it with you. I just don't want to post it anywhere and lose the possibility of having it published one day. I'd be really interested to know how it comes through to people who are not me, but who care about the topic.
Amber Michelle Cook's Blog
A call to all grown-ups everywhere: Play!