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Imaginative in fiction - escapism or enrichment of vision?

The moment I respond to an inquiry about my profession, and the answer evolves beyond the general labels of author, illustrator, and novelist, to the defining tag, fantasy, whether the occasion is an interview or a social event, the conversation that follows tends to split two ways. Either I am faced with correcting the assumption that I must write only for children, or that the stories must be frivolous entertainment. The tag escapist often follows.

At that point, smiling, I tend to run out the guns. Imagination, I point out, has preceded every vision that has created change, invented something, shifted trends in new directions, or provoked an inspired innovation. Children have it in abundance. That sense of wonder that dares to pretend they might go anywhere, do anything, act as if anything out of this world could be brought into their experience and become possible is too often belittled, once we reach adulthood. Everyday living too often discourages us from the play of erasing our boundaries and venturing into the realms of make believe.

As often as we learn from history, many times the solutions of the past can lock us in. It is my conviction that imagination is our most valuable tool to evolve, that if we applied such freedom of vison to any problem confronting our global societies, if we dared to expand beyond the limitations of any situation, or stretched our view of solutions differently, more possibilities would arise, from which change and new direction could emerge. If we could imagine what a world that enriched itself with differences might look like, what boundaries might be erased? What inspires the defining moment, when a dream becomes a goal to be pursued, or an odd angle of view creates a new vista?

What about escapism? I have politely suggested that even the most frivolous fun has genuine value. How many letters have I received from readers who had a bad patch, a hospitalization, a hardship, who avoided depression, or grief, or discouragement by plunging into a story? Temporary relief from an insoluble problem in life lifted their spirits. When they set the book down, they returned to their straits refreshed and better able to cope.

I have always loved reading, experiencing what lies beyond the borders of my experience, and returning enriched by ideas, emotions, new visions. Books have become subversive influences, sources of wild joy, ideas to emulate, maverick innovation, or altered beliefs to stretch prior boundaries. The right book at the right moment has shifted my outlook, profoundly.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, we see farther, reach wider, understand human nature more deeply, and poke fun at our foibles. Reading reaches out. I am proud to be part of a tradition that has been a part of the human mythscape for as long as people have shared ideas through language.

In the spirit of words and reaching out, due to a severe illness, author Patry Francis has asked for help with publicity for the paperback release of her new book, The Liar's Diary. Readers of mystery, suspense and thrillers can visit her webpage for more information on the title: www.patryfrancis.com


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Another writer to add to my llist!

I'm an admitted 39 year Sci-Fi fantasy fan. My teens and twenties were spent reading Andre Norton, Anne Mcaffery, Mercedes Lackey, and Charles de Lint. It was quite refreshing to read this well written blog post! I'm glad to see you here and welcome to the Red Room.

(It also looks like I have another author to add to my "Must Read" list).

Thomas Dotson
Red Room Staff.

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Shared reads

Hi Thomas Dotson -

How fun, you stopped by, and thank you.

Looks like I cut my teeth on the some of the same stories - I found Andre Norton's Witch World books, quite early on, fast followed by Anne Mccaffrey's Nebula award-nominated dragon short story, which kicked off her popular Pern series. Moonheart was my favorite book by Charles De Lint, and, sometime back I picked up on Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar.

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I just heard a lecture from a professor about the works of Tolkein when he addressed the subject of escapism he said, and I paraphrase, that the word "escapism" is the only form of the word escape that is looked upon with disdain. When we "escape" from our jobs, or a hectic day, or a bad relationship, or whatever it is a good thing that gives us a chance to relax and regroup in order to better deal with life. But mention that you read, or write, fantasy and you are labeled escapist as if using the realms of imagination, yours or a great authors, to relax, regroup, and possibly gain fresh insight and a new perspective on life and all things therein, is a bad thing. Next time someone labels you an escapist, ask them if they have ever taken a bath or gotten a massage to relax and "get away" then throw the label right back at them.

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Wow - thanks!

Hi jumpsa -

I really appreciated this post - from the words of the master, another grand shot in the locker!

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Greetings from a fellow

Greetings from a fellow redroom epic fantasy writer.

Wow, what a wonderful post. I very much enjoyed all your points. Who's to say what is important and what isn't. If a storyteller helps someone through a particularly bad time in their lives, isn't that important? Thank you for your insights.

 Jim Melvin, The Death Wizard Chronicles