Friday, April 3, 2009

The Lure of Fantasy

Why are we so drawn to fantasy? As children we play imaginary games. We read, and we continue to read as adults. Even if we don't read the fantasy genre, most of us read fiction, which is a form of fantasy. We watch movies and plays. We play video, computer and face-to-face role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. We daydream about becoming a millionaire, a movie star, the president.

Why are we so drawn to that which is NOT real? What value does fantasy have in today's fast-paced, concrete world?

Obviously it is a form of escape, and escaping from reality has been a common human pursuit throughout the ages. Some escape via drugs and alcohol, others through religion or art. Some would argue these are not vehicles of escape but of enlightenment: we learn about life through heightened experience or through art, which reflects reality back to us in stylized, altered, imaginative forms. No doubt this is all true, yet I would argue that in many cases it is the escape that appeals to people, as much as the enlightenment. It is a relief, even a joy, to put one's faith in something other than oneself (whether it be religion or some mind-altering elixir.) It is similarly a joy to immerse oneself in art - which may be why an unprecedented number of people strive to be writers these days. The experience/process is, for the creator, as rewarding/important as the product.

Some people believe that the pursuit of fantasy is a sign of immaturity, and inability to face the facts, grow up, etc. And no doubt there are people who do not like fantasy and have no desire to escape their own realities. I haven't met many of them, but I suspect they exist. On the other hand, I think for many people, fantasy is appealing as a break from reality.

I'm a serious person with lots of responsibility. I wear a number of hats: school board trustee, professor, parent, daughter, partner, writer, moderator, etc. I have a reputation as a capable, intelligent professional. I adore fantasy - in almost all its forms. I read voraciously. I write fantasy fiction. I used to work in the theatre and am still an enthusiastic audience member. I'm an avid, though infrequent, D&D player and my writing is often based on elements of D&D adventures. Fantasy feeds my imagination and my creativity.

In this blog, I want to explore some of these elements - in particular, my creative experiences with writing and Dungeons & Dragons. I look forward to your comments!