Fantasy readers have long been familiar with Tolkien’s three gifts of reading Fantasy, eRcovery, Escape and Consolation, but what I have come to discover is that these are not the only gifts of Fantasy. Not only are there three gifts for the readers, but there are also three gifts for the fellow writer. I call these gifts Embracement, Academia, and Dream Building.
Many a budding Speculative Fiction writer has endured the slings and arrows of outrageous prejudice because they apparently write just silliness. They write about trivial things like believing in the good in people, how hope shall prevail, these are apparently things that don’t mean anything to anyone… Obviously they should be writing about relevant things like sexually ambiguous, serial killers, who love porn, inject heroine into their eyeballs, are charismatically alluring and yet are still the best darned kindergarten teacher around. That’s what real writers write about, real life. Not minority groups like Hobbits showing that they too are of value, that they too can be great. That’s just babyish nonsense. Brethren (I hope you don’t mind me calling you that), if you think that writing about hope and triumphing over obstacles is something that you’d actually like to do, then boy is Speculative Fiction the community for you. They’ll love you for your dedication to fairy tales, they’ll adore your deliberations over exactly what colour a skink that lives in a Mars like environment would be, they’ll accept that monkeys can talk and fly and wield magic and that’s important. What’s more, it isn’t just your fellow fledging writers who will encourage you, those published demi gods will actually come down from on high and actively encourage you. They’ll even remember you. So if you don’t necessarily want to become a starving artist, unappreciated in your time, living in a mental institution, slowly sipping contraband absinth, these people will accept that. Heck they’ll accept it if you do. That’s what is so great about Speculative Fiction writers. They believe in people and they welcome people.
Yeah, I know, ironic right? Don’t Speculative Fiction Writers just make it all up? Aren’t they writing Speculative Fiction because they aren’t smart enough or disciplined enough to write about and understand real life? No and No. Sitting down with a Speculative Fiction writer is like have a living encyclopaedia in front of you. If you are lucky enough to hear Ian Irvine speak, he’ll cover a range of topics, from the environment, to the history of Speculative Fiction in Australia, to the reasons behind the collapse of Boarders, and then go onto let you know the best way to escape from family BBQ’s in order to get some writing done. Even John Flanagan, who is notorious for claiming he just makes stuff up, can provide you with an eight page dossier on the discovery and usage of coffee in his world. And quite frankly, what Kate Forsyth doesn’t know about pee isn’t worth knowing. It is staggering the vast array of expertise these people have, you cannot help but be inspired to research and write just from listening to them for half an hour. They’re the human equivalent of art galleries and I love to soak them up and you will too.
This is their final, and I believe greatest gift. Speculative Fiction writers are dream builders, not dream killers. They understand that you have a story and that you would love for people to read it. They don’t treat the dream of being published like a dirty thing. Something that you should never dream of. That you should only write for the sake of writing and forsake all other dreams. I think it is because of the nature of Speculative Fiction, they often write about good triumphing, and that deep down people are good, that they tend to be more accepting of dreams and motivations. They tend to skip the thought that people only wanting to write to get published, they cast aside the notion that there are people out there who deeply despise writing and are only doing it to get rich and or famous. These people say, what’s your dream? Work hard, and go for it. Dreams can come true and if you work for it, yours can too. They are willing to encourage you to be the best you that you can be. They accept you, they embrace you, they encourage you to research and work hard, but they also encourage you to dream. And dreams are what fiction is made of.