To What Extent is Fantasy Real in Your Life?

I daresay this has been discussed before...

I suspect there is some quirk of our human brains that is always looking for meaning in patterns, numbers, coincidence, synchronicity etc which we sometimes imbue with greater significance than they warrant in a black and white science based world. And yet, we cling to these little moments because they make us feel as though the Universal Mind has picked us out for a private message. We feel we have received a glimpse into some profound truth that at most times eludes our comprehension - but every now and then some apparently trivial occurrence makes us prick up our ears and think Yes! There is a fundamental truth out there that no-one has quite twigged to...but I just saw a glimpse, so I know it's real.

This kind of thinking leads (probably) to schizophrenia if you take it too seriously, but I for one, scientific to the end, never quite give up on the possibility that I have received tantalising glimpses of that fundamental truth, and I wonder to what extent those glimpses motivate my writing, and the writing of others? The closest I've written to a fantasy book (kinda surrealist sci-fi) wallowed in my personal myth system and included numerous examples of the odd little incidents I'm talking about, but I also include these in my (much more successful) crime fiction..

I could give examples but...do you get what I'm talking about?

Do strange glimpses of hidden truths inspire your writing?
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Wait... you mean I'm not a dragon? :eek:

But, seriously, yeah, we write urban fantasy, so we see fantasy elements everywhere. I was watching a documentary on Al Capone and The Untouchables the other night and found myself wondering how the vampires of Chicago would have dealt with the rise of gang culture during Prohibition. Fantasy wriggles its way into pretty much every aspect of my life.
 
I'm not really sure what you're talking about--you're certainly not using language I would apply to anything in my life. But I do think fantasy is real in life, in the sense that it's analogous to life.

Suppose you don't identify as your biological gender. You're stuck in a body that doesn't feel like your own, occupying a role that you don't belong in. The local nightlife gives you an escape, allowing you to be more like the person you want to be. You might write a lot of stories about werewolves.

Suppose you live with your mother, who's very kind and very loving. But she's very much in need of love, too, and she becomes depressed quite easily when there's no one around to love her. She gently discourages your efforts to leave home, and makes you feel like an evil person for wanting to live on your own. You might write a lot of stories about vampires.

For me, it's demons. I keep coming back to the question of what it means to be defined as the enemy by the people who're defined as people. To be thrown into a pit to suffer, so that the rest of the world can be safe and happy. To be told that your morals, your vision, are twisted and corrupt, and that the only right way to live is the way of the people who call you a monster.

Fantasy is an abstraction. Folks talk around what they can't talk about--because it hurts, or because it's too complicated, or because they're afraid people would laugh at them if they said it straight. But an awful lot of what people say and think is hopelessly abstracted down from messy, hard-to-fix issues, and that means that fantasy can be more real than what people perceive as the real world.
 

Trick

Auror
I'm Catholic so, to many people, the things I believe to be fundamental truths are mere fantasy. Since I already believe in fantastical things, it's easy to slide into others that I don't really believe but wish were real, or would fear if they were real. I do get the feeling you're talking about and it has definitely inspired my writing. By back burner WIP was inspired when I worked in a mall kiosk and saw two apparent strangers exchange odd looks as if they were fighting but on a different plane of existence where I couldn't see it and it was bleeding into our realm and showing on their faces. A whole book, and possibly a series, was inspired by that look and the feeling it gave me.
 

Jabrosky

Banned
Without quite understanding what the OP is saying either...

As I've said before, I spent several years of my childhood in Singapore. This island country had a lush tropical jungle that I loved to gaze at whenever we drove past it. Such experiences really stimulated my imagination, especially since our Western culture associates jungles with mystery and exotic adventure. I loved having that kind of primeval environment a short drive's away from my own backyard.

But I do think fantasy is real in life, in the sense that it's analogous to life.

Suppose you don't identify as your biological gender. You're stuck in a body that doesn't feel like your own, occupying a role that you don't belong in. The local nightlife gives you an escape, allowing you to be more like the person you want to be. You might write a lot of stories about werewolves.

Suppose you live with your mother, who's very kind and very loving. But she's very much in need of love, too, and she becomes depressed quite easily when there's no one around to love her. She gently discourages your efforts to leave home, and makes you feel like an evil person for wanting to live on your own. You might write a lot of stories about vampires.

For me, it's demons. I keep coming back to the question of what it means to be defined as the enemy by the people who're defined as people. To be thrown into a pit to suffer, so that the rest of the world can be safe and happy. To be told that your morals, your vision, are twisted and corrupt, and that the only right way to live is the way of the people who call you a monster.

Fantasy is an abstraction. Folks talk around what they can't talk about--because it hurts, or because it's too complicated, or because they're afraid people would laugh at them if they said it straight. But an awful lot of what people say and think is hopelessly abstracted down from messy, hard-to-fix issues, and that means that fantasy can be more real than what people perceive as the real world.
I'm hesitant to write about real-life experiences in the guise of fiction as you describe. Like everyone else, I've suffered more than my fair share of drama and emotional nadirs, but I'm ashamed of these bad experiences because they often stem from something I did. It seems that every conflict I've ever found myself into is at least partly my own fault. I don't want to relive these shameful events in my past.
 
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Grandeur

Minstrel
It may not have been strange glimpses of truth that started my writing, but it has evolved into the very backbone of the WIP I am currently trying to hammer out. I am willing to admit that it is a bundle of subjective truths, but the truths seem to circle something fundamental, even if it is just my experience of consciousness. While I caution the excessive or leisure use of such a drug, it is because of an LSD trip about five years ago that I felt I connected to a deeper understanding of what I wanted to do as a writer, and gained a compulsion to see it happen. Since then, I have reworked and reforged my WIP's world, history, and plot, and just when it seems like I've created some incredible new plot element or glossary term or culture, I am soon to find it somewhere in our current studies of science, metaphysics, and philosophy.

What began as a fantasy world that I thought could never exist seems to edge closer and closer to what our real world is actually like. Quantum physics, dark matter and dark energy, astronomy, ancient world history, marine archaeology, sacred geometry, study of consciousness, particle physics, string theory, relativity, the Ley Lines, cosmology, astrophysics, anthropology (study of religions), just to name a few sources of fascinating insights.

There is magic in the potential experience of every conscious moment.
 

CupofJoe

Myth Weaver
Without getting in to the relative merits or not of any religion/belief system, the one I follow encourages me to look around me to see what is happening and accept the wonder and fantasy that surrounds me. That helps me write.
I can get ideas for stories or glimpses of truth from the shapes of clouds [there was one that looked like a huge heart/hot air balloon as I drove home last night] or that little lizard that stood its ground against me when we met on a path last week [it was 5 inches long and I am most definitely not - but I gave way...]. Inspiration is and can be taken from anywhere.
I, personally, don't think that there is a single Truth [all important with a capital letter and all] that has to be told or understood but there are lots of little small truths that we can let into our writing when we see and understand each...
Your opinion will differ... it really doesn't matter to me and I don't think it should matter to anyone but you.
If you find a way that works for you... hold on tight and enjoy the ride...
 

Mythopoet

Auror
I was rereading a Father Brown mystery story last night and came across this quote which I thought was very insightful:

"The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen. A few clouds do come together into the staring shape of one human eye. A tree does stand up in the landscape of a doubtful journey in the exact and elaborate shape of a note of interrogation. I have seen both these things myself within the last few days.... In short, there is in life an element of elfin coincidence which people reckoning on the prosaic may perpetually miss. As it has been well expressed in the paradox of Poe, wisdom should reckon on the unforeseen." (The Blue Cross by G.K. Chesterton)

I think it's almost a requirement for a good fantasy writer to be about to look around the world and, as Chesterton put it, see the unforeseen, the little miracles that surround us. And of course there's the famous line from Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
 

Scribble

Archmage
Humans, it seems, myself included, are wired for magical thinking. It seems to be our "default setting".

Like most people who would label themselves "rationalists", I try to ground my view of reality on objectively provable truths, but balanced by a belief in unprovable subjective human truths. Still, I catch myself and the people around me falling into the 'trap' of magical thinking.

"Picnic tomorrow!"
"I hope it doesn't rain."
"Don't say that! You'll curse us!"

How? How exactly could saying words into the air affect the weather. Sure, I understand the butterfly effect (in a nutshell)... a butterfly flapping its wings causing a hurricane through the accumulated effects of the movement of molecules. BUT to have a direct and purposeful effect based on some cosmic force that wants to ruin picnics for people who mention rain... is attributing a very human (and sadistic) intelligence to the universe that is specific to magical thinking.

As children, we begin to master our world by naming things. Dada, Mama, Bottle, Dog, Toy. They become words of power over our environment. By naming, it is as if we have a mastery over the essence of these things. Plato went to town with that idea and we inherit his ideas even today.

That words have power is no mystery to a forum of writers, but the idea that words have POWER is a trick of our mind and culture that gets us into all sorts of irrational thoughts.

There is a fallacy that sociology classes revealed to me: the idea that we here in the West are rational, and that Other societies are myth driven. We have this class of magical myths that are obvious (to us) to belong to the world of fairy tales (Athena, Thor, water dowsing, etc...) BUT the real myths that permeate our culture are mostly invisible to us as myths and magic. If you watch yourself closely, you will find yourself under the influence of magical ideas - no matter how rational you think you are! Walk under a ladder, let a black cat cross your path... a tiny little part of you may feel a slight twinge, it might take some will to force that feeling away! That's the trick, overcoming our default reactions - BUT I think reason is an onion with infinite layers - every time you think you are free of irrational thinking, there is another layer there. Silly, silly humans!

I cannot help but see patterns in things. I see faces in the random tile patterns of my bathroom floor. There are goblins, storm giants, demons, warriors, beasts of all kinds. Are they there? Well, they inspire me. I take advantage of that, as a writer to fill my mind with whatever fancies enter it, and use them to create fantasy.

The real fantasy happens when I FORGET that it is make believe. In those moments, fantasy is real in my life, as real as anything. I suppose it lives in a box in one corner of my life, so that I can be a respectable systems analyst at work, a responsible-seeming father, someone who can be relied on to handle things. However, there is a magic side, one that I explore through writing. I need that part of my life, just as I need the rest.

Truly, I think that as rational as I try to be, if I had no magical illusions about the world and myself I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning and do all that I have to do in a day.
 
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Some absolute genius in the last few responses, and very articulately told.

I think it is important that we writers try to make sense of the world and/or give insights on as many levels as can be conceived (and even beyond, if that makes any kind of sense). Success is important to me but there are all sorts of success - one really good form would be someone holding your book up in a lecture theatre in a thousand years time and saying here is an example of someone who appreciated the very glimmerings of Infinite Field Theory - the fundamental force of the multiverse which we have now harnessed to bring us enlightenment, plenty, instantaneous travel between the stars and immortality.
 
I think it is important that we writers try to make sense of the world and/or give insights on as many levels as can be conceived (and even beyond, if that makes any kind of sense). Success is important to me but there are all sorts of success - one really good form would be someone holding your book up in a lecture theatre in a thousand years time and saying here is an example of someone who appreciated the very glimmerings of Infinite Field Theory - the fundamental force of the multiverse which we have now harnessed to bring us enlightenment, plenty, instantaneous travel between the stars and immortality.

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Seriously, I haven't been this baffled by a post on Mythic Scribes since a mod who shall remain nameless said that dreams are a portal to the dimension where our souls go when we die. What on Earth are you writing that you would be predicting new fundamental forces?

To try to engage with this post on some level, hard sci-fi writers can and do predict new technologies. More conventional writers can make advancements in psychology, or sometimes outline the movements of whole societies. (Say, Charles Dickens describing the behavioral patterns in abusive relationships, or George Orwell explaining why Communist dictatorships fail.)

Edit: On second thought, and against my better judgment, I think I will try to approach this post at its root. I've noticed that when authors have an idea for How the Universe Works, it tends to be incompatible with the way I act and think. The implication is usually that in order to achieve true happiness and become in line with How the Universe Works, I would need to stop behaving like myself and doing the things that allow me to recognize myself as myself. (For instance, if they think The Universe Works based on a rigid moral code that must never be violated lest dark, corruptive forces leak out, I almost always do or say something that violates that moral code.) That's why I write about so many different kinds of people--I want to understand and present the world the way they see it, so I don't get trapped in seeing the world the way I see it, and don't start trying to impose The Way My Universe Works on them.

It's likely that this sort of relativism is inherently hypocritical. After all, if I say that different interpretations aren't completely wrong, I'm implicitly denying the rightness of interpretations that hold that all other interpretations are false. Still, I know that a lot of people could not believe in and would not be happy with my way of viewing the world, so I can't reasonably write as if that way of viewing is "correct" for the majority of my characters, even if it's "correct" for me.

(If that wall of text baffles you, it's not entirely penetrable to me, either. I'm figuring this out as I go.)
 
C

Chessie

Guest
I think he's trying to say that writers are important people, and our work is all brilliant. :D

Fantasy is real in my life because I write about it, read about, play video games, and have even been known to indulge in some Dungeons & Dragons (thanks Dad). Fantasy is all imagination and emotion. If I could live in a fairytale world, I would.
 

Mythopoet

Auror
Seriously, I haven't been this baffled by a post on Mythic Scribes since a mod who shall remain nameless said that dreams are a portal to the dimension where our souls go when we die. What on Earth are you writing that you would be predicting new fundamental forces?

I'm pretty sure that was just a hypothetical situation. No need to take it so seriously.
 

Telcontar

Staff
Moderator
Fantasy isn't "real" in my life. But it still has power in my head!

When I was younger I definitely would have moments like the Dark One describes - feeling connections with a greater truth, thinking there must be some power beyond the obvious world around us. Now I'm a pretty adamant skeptic and atheist, and think that those earlier moments were all just tricks of my head. There is no fundamental truth, there is no reality beyond what we observe. I was seeing things I wanted to see cuz they filled me with wonder and made me feel good.

The great thing is, I can still see them. I just don't believe they are part of reality. I still daydream about dragons flying overhead, magical events, etc etc. These sort of imaginings continue to fill me with wonder. Yes, these do inspire my writing; not because I believe in them, but because I find the ideas beautiful.
 
Seriously, I haven't been this baffled by a post on Mythic Scribes since a mod who shall remain nameless said that dreams are a portal to the dimension where our souls go when we die. What on Earth are you writing that you would be predicting new fundamental forces?

This response reminds me of the time I was flying from Sydney to London and we had entered that bizarre long haul limbo - hours after take-off and still many hours from landing. In the dim cabin, I turned to the German passenger next to me and said: 'We could be anywhere couldn't we.'

He stared at me for a moment and said: 'What do you mean?'

'Well...we're 30,000 feet up but we could be anywhere...under the ocean...out in space...anywhere.'

He stared at me for a longer period, then said (as though explaining to an imbecile): 'We're in an aircraft.'


I laughed for weeks about that.

I wasn't being that serious Feo...just a little whimsical.
 

monyo

Scribe
What on Earth are you writing that you would be predicting new fundamental forces?

In my case it was going to be an attempt to explain magic in terms of something like a fifth fundamental force, or virtual particles being created out of spacetime manipulation at a sub-Planck scale (which I mostly just made up by smashing buzzwords together, not a real thing), or some other such concept. I'd always thought the parallel between scientists and wizards was pretty interesting. Characters like Gandalf just seem to be scientists in a world with a different set of rules, studying it and learning to harness it just the same. Which seems relevant to the thread topic.

I kind of doubt the majority of the fantasy audience has an interest in that sort of thing, but I wasn't necessarily looking to appeal to a mass audience either. I figured I'd just write the story I always wanted to read, and if someone else does too then all the better. The whole idea fits quite nicely into a broader concept, but I won't go into that.
 

Philip Overby

Staff
Article Team
I guess I won't take the OP literally and just say that fantasy has a strong influence on my life. I'm very interested in the unknown or "potentially possible" so I'm always looking for signs of things that can't be explained. Other than that, fantasy writing is clearly a huge part of my life. I spend most of my days thinking about how to write a certain story, how to polish it, and how to put it in front of people to read. Sometimes I don't polish them at all (see some of my Challenge entries for that), but I'm trying to work out my writing muscle. I'd say fantasy takes up about 50 percent or more of my daily life. When I'm not working I'm either reading, writing, or immersing myself in some kind of fantasy world (through video games, books, etc.) I think that form of escapism keeps a lot of people sane. But it's good to step outside my fantasy comfort zone and experience real world events. That's one thing I always try to harp on to new writers. You can read and study about writing all you want, but the biggest way to give yourself material is to go out in the world and do stuff. It doesn't have to be anything huge, but just do something.
 
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