Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't piss off the fairies



We learn young that fairies are a flighty lot. Some stories present them as capricious, others depict the malice that lies in some fey. As a reminder to writer-me, I keep on my desk a marble plaque that reads: Don't Piss Off the Fairies. I mean, I have enough work to envision a story, write it well and find someone who wants to publish it, without fairies pulling my hair or worse.
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Why these photos? Because when I shot them, getting down low into grass and flowers and dew, I thought of fairies. They reside in the hidden places, in the mysterious realms of our minds.

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Without imagination people would eat, sleep, procreate and that would be it. No art. No stories. No music.
For me, speculative fiction is the ultimate delight. It's not that I don't love a gorgeous piece of literary fiction or admire a gritty reality story from time-to-time, but my greatest reading pleasure is found in fantasy, science fiction, dystopian and magical realism. Let me step out of this world into another where the dragons or demons or Terminators are terrifying but can be outwitted.
Sometimes the weight of our world with it's financial crashes, corporate crime, man-made ecological disasters, genocides and more can be too depressing to read about yet again in the news, let alone a novel. I think the draw of spec fiction is those same topics can be there but in alien format so we are eager to fight them with the protagonist. I think that's why fairy tales and other fantasy forms of writing, even allegory, have worked for so long. We step outside our own problems, anxiety and fear. And with the characters we find ways to cope, we conquer the unknown. It's a psychological tool presented in a fun package, if you will.
Do you think this is true? Do you read/write spec fiction and why?

58 comments:

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I agree! (Love the photos by the way). Personally, I like to read (or watch movies for that matter) to escape the problems of this world. The characters can still have their own problems, but I want to be somewhere different and special and interesting.

Happy Wednesday!

Tessa Conte said...

Beautiful pictures, I think I can even spot a fairy or two... ; )

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, I read and write spec fic almost exclusively.

It's not that I don't like "literature", but when I get the chance to read, I want to be transported to another place or time or world.

I'm an escapist at heart, always have been. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shannon: Thanks! I love to escape--big time.

Tessa: You see them, too, yay!

Tere: I might have guessed. ;) It's the being transported, yes, that is such a thrill.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Beautiful! It makes me want to leave work and go fairy hunting right now! :-)

Angie said...

Very, very true. I love spec-fic too. It's my favorite and all that I write. Well, there may be a couple of non-spec Christmas stories in there, but that is where my heart lives.

Abby Annis said...

I love reading and writing spec fic. It's a great way to escape. :) Beautiful pics!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I've seen that sign and I love it! Have you seen the little fairy doors you can put on the floor against the wall? So cute.

You know I read anything everything magical, paranormal, etc. I love escaping from reality. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

ShannonO: Wouldn't it be fun to go fairy hunting? I'd join you any time!

Angie: I love that comment: That's where my heart lives. That's it.

Thanks, Abby!

Karen: I saw those fairy doors and decided I should make some of my own. Haven't done it yet, but it would be so much fun to design. I was thinking collage or maybe in 3-D with twigs and such. I really must do it...

Genie of the Shell said...

I've been having so much fun with writing since I started writing fantasy. My favorite is combining realistic characters in a fantastical setting. Ironically, I think fantasy and sci-fi are great genres for exploring "truths" about human nature and society.

Donna said...

Amen to all of that. (I think I saw a fairy under the nasturtium in the shadowy center.)

Suzanne Casamento said...

I don't write spec fiction and generally don't read it either, but you make a great case for it. Your case is also a good one for reading in general. When our own world is too difficult to deal with, we look to story to escape and gain a little hope.

Jackee said...

Books are definitely an escape and my favorite are those that I can relate to in allegory--especially fairy tales.

I believe C. S. Lewis had something to say on this but I couldn't track it down. You probably know the quote I mean anyway.

Happy Wednesday!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Genie: It is fun, isn't it? And, I agree, there is a lot of room for exploring truths within fantasical genres.

Donna: I'm ever so sure you did. ;)

Suzanne: Spec fic is the ultimate escape. The best of it is written as beautifully as literary fiction (Margaret Atwood, for example). I'm glad I made a good case!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jackee: Hi and Happy Wednesday to you, too. I don't know the quote but I shall have to look for it. Spec fic, and all the different names its been called, has often been viewed as lesser writing but there are some masterful works, and we know many became classics.

Liza said...

Oh Tricia, I have that saying too, on a bluestone step in a remote section of our backyard...leading to a tiny stone grotto where a band of sculped frogs play instruments. All were gifts from my husband and point to the wimsy you can find or develop, in a yard.

Eric W. Trant said...

Fiction. Literature. I'm not sure why we even separate those two.

I don't care what genre, or if it has a plot, or if it's in past, present, or future worlds in this or another dimension.

So long as it's well-written and clear and it entertains me on some level.

That said, I don't read much literature. It's not that I mind the points they make, but I don't like their poetically confusing prose.

I don't even like poetically confusing poetry.

I speak English. Please, please, PLEASE press 1 when writing your stuff.

Please.

I mean, don't smudge up my spyglass and then expect me to see the moon.

- Eric

Palindrome said...

I will read pretty much anything as long as it's engaging. I don't care which genre they're put it. My tastes to lean a bit towards speculative fiction though.

There is some "straight fiction" that I adore though.

Again, as long as whatever they wrote is done well. I'm in!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Liza: How cool that you have that saying in your yard. *jumps up and down* Picture, please! I've always thought there's magic in gardens.

Eric: Hahahahahahaha! Let's hear it for clarity! And a touch of levity! May I borrow your spyglass?

Palindrome: I love a fine tale and don't reject other forms of fiction (I use to read lots of literary fiction) but find I gravitate to spec fic these days.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wen Prior said...

I'm the same. Life is difficult enough, if I watch TV, read or write a book, I want to be able to escape, at least a little bit. Not that my stories don't have unpleasant things happen in them.

Hmm. I wonder if the unpleasant things we write about are a way of taking control of unpleasantness - since we can fix or at least control the bad things that happen in our stories. There's a deep thought for the middle of the week!

Tina Lynn said...

Yes, yes, and yes! I prefer to escape realism and fight imaginary monsters that seem scarier than the ones I *really* have to face on a daily basis. If it weren't for fantasy, life would be too hard to take in large doses. Fantasy sweetens it up:)

Jemi Fraser said...

I love spec fiction - always have! For me it's all about the possibilities - the what ifs. So much fun :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wen: You hit it. There's control when we are writing the piece. And there is feeling we can overcome the bad, whereas in the real world many things are not in our control. I like your deepness.;)

Tina: Yay! Here's to sweet doses of fantasy.

Jemi: Right! The imagination gets to fly.

Tabitha Bird said...

Spec fiction? I don't think I have ever read it. What would you recommend?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Tabitha: Spec or speculative fiction is just the fancy new term for fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian or anything that imagines other worlds or times. So I'm sure you've read some. It could be anything: The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Giver, Lament, Graceling, The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Wen Prior said...

Absolutely! And The Book Thief would be too, considering it's narrator and I know you've read that one. Oh, duh, so's mine. You've read that hehe.

Have you read Lament, Tricia? I'm in the acknowledgments of that one. (yes, I'm skiting, I may never get in the acknowledgments of anything ever again, I have to take my opportunities!)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wen: Oh, so you're the Wendy who stands upside down! Ha! That's great. Yes, I read Lament and Ballad--loved them. (And if you beta my book and I ever please the publishing gods, you could hit the acknowledgment jackpot again!)

Wen Prior said...

LOL, yes that's me! The Wendy who stands on her head. I loved that description :) It was actually Maggie, and another friend of ours, Gord, who started calling me Wen. It sort of stuck after that.

Well, you know I'm absolutely bursting to read Sea Daughters after the bits I have read! Hint. Hint. :D

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wen: I am soooo much slower than you. Getting close, but I'm waiting on an interview I think I've got for some scientific parts near the end. Once I get that I'll be wrapping it up pretty quickly (I think).

Wen Prior said...

I think slow is relative. You're far better at the first draft from what I read, than I am! I think we've been writing ours about the same amount of time now, you started for NaNo too, didn't you? I think you may beat me at this rate! I'm fast but chaotic.

Also, you know what to do with commas. Despite my endless research on the subject, I'm still basically throwing them at word and hoping something sticks :) Apostrophes, though, those I get. Now. At last. Largely thanks to you!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wen: Yup, started for NaNo. I've never done that before, and it sure was a challenge and a high to write so much, so fast. But then I slowed way down. Still, except for a couple of spots that need a bit more research, I'm almost there. I won't know if I need serious rewrite until I let betas gnaw on it.
Glad I could help with those pesky apostrophes. ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love the photos, and I couldn't help but laugh at the plaque. Too cute.

I'm not sure why I enjoy YA fantasy (especially urban fantasy and paranormal). I just do. Maybe it's because I get to stretch my imagination further than I would have done otherwise. Great question. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Stina: Thank you! It is a good stretch, isn't it? And just plain fun.

Faith Pray said...

Oh yes! I want to post your fairy quote on my wall. I write and read to bring that fairy world closer to home. Whenever possible I love the escape to bright lands just out of reach.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Faith: Yay! I knew you'd love Faerie. I bet they are all around you.

Phoenix said...

I hadn't heard the term Speculative Fiction before but had lumped it in with Steampunk, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.

It is probably my most favorite genre. I love that fantasy and sci-fi do what no other genre can do: show us the truths of our lives in such a safe and profound way that we actually get the message. Tolkien needed to write about war, but he needed to do so in a way that would draw people in and let him ease some of his burdens of the past. And so, Lord of the Rings was born.

Brilliant.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh, well said, luv. A world other than our own helps to step away from the madness, I think. It's like getting a hefty dose of someone else's reality.

As always, your pictures are amazing and inspiring. And I'm certain there are some fairies in there.

Sliding on the Edge said...

Made me want to crawl through the grass and snoop out some fairies of my own. Beautiful.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Phoenix: I think you hit on a good point that messages delivered in a safe way through the lens of another world/another time, make it easier for the reader to accept them without prejudice. At least that's my expansion on your thought.

Carolina: We might step into someone else's madness but that seems easier to swallow then our own, doesn't it.
Glad you like those fairylands!

Lee: You must post pictures when you find those fairies!

Mary Campbell said...

Love the photos and the title of this post. I agree with you. It does feel safer to fight injustices in an imaginary world. I feel so helpless to change anything in the real world.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Mary: Hi! Thank you so much. There is solid reason why we love imaginary worlds. They are places to escape and to believe.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I love that nasturtium picture! I always know if I need a pick-me-up that I can count on your blog for something beautiful.

Thanks, Tricia!

Tahereh said...

first: BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS!

second: yes, i definitely have to agree with you and everyone else -- it's so nice to step outside of everyday dreariness into a fantasy world of fun and excitement. it almost makes you think it could actually happen. it's a momentary escape :)

thanks so much for sharing -- i hope you have a fab weekend!!

Talli Roland said...

What beautiful photos! I love the way the dew is almost glistening.

It is nice to get a little fantasy in from time to time.

Have a great weekend Tricia!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stephanie: *happy dance* I love that I can give a pick-me-up.

Tehereh: Hello and welcome. Believing it's possible makes it that much more fun, I agree. Happy weekend to you, too!

Thanks, Talli, and a most happy weekend to you!

B.J. Anderson said...

I absolutely agree with you!! Spec fic is my FAVORITE. I couldn't live without it. :D Great post.

Janet Johnson said...

Awesome post . . . and LOVE the pictures. Fairy tales and the like are such interesting fodder. They definitely give us a medium of escape while still feeling familiar. Not much can say that. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi BJ! Yay, for spec fic and thank you so much.

Janet: You're right they do feel familiar even with a foot in another world. :)

storyqueen said...

Okay, this might sound weird, but I find that those books with a bit of the "unreal" in them are far more real to me than realistic, contemporary fiction.

Not quite sure why that is, but whenever I read stuff (especially YA) that is realistic, I find myself thinking that it was NOTHING like the live I knew, NOTHING like the realities I faced as a teen.

Speculative fiction uses fancy window dressing (strange place...magic...different worlds....) to tackle those universal themes....love, sacrifice, redemption, choice......and those themes are the ones that speak to my heart.

Shelley

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shelley: I think you're on to something. It probably has to do with perception--when we think in terms of real world, it's what we've lived, experienced, believe, but in fantasy worlds we can be open to endless possibilities, to could be or what if.

Lisa and Laura said...

Those pictures are gorgeous. And I honestly think that all fiction is an escape. Getting inside another character's head whether spec fiction or contemporary fiction is a welcome break from my own boring life!

Culture Served Raw said...

I have to agree with much of what you said, though I haven't read much of ful lblown fantasy, I love magical realism liek Marquez and Allende and dystopic fantasies. Anyway, you're a very funny writers and I love the pictures! Great post

The Empress said...

Hello. Pleasure to meet you.

Followed you over from the query contest page.

I agree with what you've said on imagination. I am a homeschooler to 3 boys, and I write stories for them.

I get such a thrill when I hear them ask for "the next chapter, mama!"
They don't know that I have to write the next chapter that night! I do this b/c I watch what gets them excited about what I've written,then I go from there.

Excellent post. Thank you!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

LiLa: I seem to need lots of those breaks. Just finished reading The Dead-Tossed Waves, and I must say I don't want to BE in that world. Reading about it is close enough!

Hi "Culture," nice to meet you. I like Allende and Marquez, too. What I crave, I think, is the magic.

Empress: Nice to meet you, too, your highness. I always figure if the kids are asking for more, you're doing it right!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

What a delightful post. I too see faries in the grass, sometimes.
Wish I could see them all the time

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Rayna, what a pleasure to have you stop by. If we saw the fairies all the time do you think they'd carry us off? I might not mind. :D

Tricia J. O'Brien said...
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