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Fantasy and world building, the balance of imagination

Shot of a futuristic young woman.
Fantasy can stretch your mind and enhance your future.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” 

                                                                                 —Albert Einstein

When is the last time someone accused you of having your head in the clouds? Did you thank them? Chances are they weren’t meaning to  be complimentary and that is unfortunate. It says more about them than you. Chances are they weren’t big fans of the imagination, daydreams, fantasy or invisible friends. Go figure.

Albert Einstein was also a daydreamer and he did all right by us. Other great imaginers include: Carl Sagan, Dr. Seuss, Julius Ceasar, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marc Chagall, Immanuel Kant, Michelangelo, Muhammad Ali. No surprise that you find artists and writers valuing imagination but military leaders, philosophers and athletes? Not at first blush.

Imagination is the mother of fantasy as necessity is the mother of invention. Fantasy is how we escape when reality is too tedious, demanding or overwhelming.  Perhaps escape is too final a solution, say we hold reality at bay with judicious infusions of fantasy. When we step into a fantasy, the stranger the better, we observe situations that are outside the realm of our possibilities (for the moment) and are able to try on how we would behave in new situations. We can visualize and plan, we can step outside ourselves and act through the behavior of heroes and heroines because who knows when we will be asked to step up and assume a heroic undertaking. And if we never are, how else will we know how it feels?

Aladdin magic lamp east design for wish fulfillment
Aladdin’s magic lamp imagining the path to  wish fulfillment

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

—Pablo Picasso

When you escape into fantasy you allow your mind to take a break and regroup, imagine an alternative or grow in understanding. I know when I’m not feeding my imagination. My energy is just one casualty, but the first thing to go is my empathy. When I am stressed, with too much to do I become a shriveled version of myself.

There is a difference between stressing out by stretching yourself too thin and engaging in too many creative projects. Yes, even a good thing can be overwhelming. But I notice that the stress creeps in when I quit trying to discover or play with my project and get caught up in the end result. If someone likes it before it is done it is the kiss of death. I become paralyzed with trying to figure out how to keep their admiration instead of going where the project leads. I need to create alone or at least I need to create without input. Until I reach a final stage. That comes when I’ve pushed as far as I can and am ready to see it from a new perspective. I guess it is all a matter of timing.

“People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.”

—William Butler Yeats

I don’t know of anyone who can pull from an unending pool of creativity without feeding that space with day dreams and “useless” speculation. Inspiration is the reward of feeding your creative place. It is the spontaneous vista at the peak of the endless and rocky mountain path. It shines, it glows, it lets you see things that are hidden by your daily routine. One of the most enjoyable ways of investing in my creative capital is by reading a good fantasy. And it is exactly when I don’t have  time that I need fantasy the most. Because fantasy is really about perspective. It is a balance to the way we see the world  breaking our preconceived ideas and offering a new way to perceive.

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

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Fantasy is the root system that feeds the tree of  knowledge.

 

Read more great quotations about imagination at: brainy quotes

Javelin: a sharp, lethal weapon

javelinRGB

Javelin, Jelly’s story.

Javelin, book three in the Sanctuary series, is like all of the series, pure fantasy. The best part of writing fantasy is that you get to make things up. You get to play god in creating situations that could be, better yet, the way they should be and then you get to put characters you care about into those worlds and see what they do.

A writer’s attachment to their work should come from the investment they have in the ideas that work represents and from the affection/disgust they feel towards the characters living in that work.

The characters  live. If they don’t why read the book? There should be a point in a good book where the reader steps into the world and lives inside the head of at least one character. I know there are  books written without a single sympathetic entity included. I won’t invest  more than reading 25% of a book if I can’t find someone to” love”. The character may be flawed (all the better) beaten up like an old stuffed frog, but if there is a shred of something I can identify with, I’ll keep reading.

Writing a book is a series of choices. Every word is a choice, set in place like stones in the walls of places like Machu Pichu. No cement, no masonry, just precision and tension. Sound like a good book? It does to me. The plot should undulate like the earthquakes that shake and wiggle the high places and the words should be able to withstand the pressure. Ok, enough metaphor.

Machu picchu temple of the sun inside

Machu Picchu is over 560 years old. The walls were built without mortar, like a good book, built to stand the changes of time.

Words often get in the way. For me, there are times when I want to shape the story with my hands not my words. I want to paint the faces, show a movie of the actions and create a scent that would expose the motivations of the characters. I want to make it real.

I’m blessed and cursed. I can draw and paint but not with the skill I need communicate at the level I desire. I can write but I struggle with the same limitations. When one reader tells me that they get the character or the story, it means that the magic moment of connection has been achieved. Writing, like most things creative, is lonely, often a singular journey. The difference is the reader.

In Javelin the third book in the Sanctuary series the main characters are surrounded by walls of their own making. In self defense they keep others at a distance. The theme is that love conquers all, even broken hearts. Sound a little different from what you expect from high fantasy, well all fiction is fantasy. This series tells the old stories through the minds and actions of species nonhuman and human, characters ultimately not afraid to open their minds or hearts.

If you like to wonder what if, wander in Sanctuary for a while.

Overview: Javelin—Jelly Jones’ story. Follow the coming of age of Lunabel’s best friend. Jelly has the warrior spirit of of an Amazon princess and a heart that knows no gear for retreat.