Today I want to share a great piece I read about why we read and write fantasy that really struck a chord with me. I admit, I’ve often felt my own story isn’t “fantastical” enough on this first pass through, because I’m also trying to portray real cultures (the hunter-gatherers, the river culture, the City-State, etc.), but yesterday’s landscape artworks, today’s quote, and this amazing dragon picture all reminded me that there’s a reason I chose fantasy and added dragons to the mix in my story, instead of writing straight historical fiction.
I first read this on Joyce Chua’s blog, The Writes of Passage, in a post filled with other inspirational writing quotes. Joyce has published a YA novel called Lambs for Dinner and continues to write and blog — I recommend checking her out!
But as is my wont, I tracked down the original source of the quote, from the blog of the man himself. This short piece was also published in a 1996 book called Faces of Fantasy by Patti Perret, a collection of more than 100 photographs of modern fantasy authors. According to a review of the book, each author that was photographed was also given space to “describe who they are, their philosophy, or anything else that seemed appropriate.” It looks really interesting.
So, without further ado, here is what noted fantasy author George R.R. Martin had to say about why we love fantasy. I hope it inspires you as it did me!
The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.
Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?
We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.
They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.
— George R.R. Martin
Once again, the beautiful dragon art I’m sharing today appears all over the interwebs, but I was unable to track down the original artist. I found it on a lot of “fantasy wallpapers” sites, but if anyone knows how I can attribute the actual artist, please let me know!