Today’s cup of coffee celebrates that prickly feeling a writer gets when a dragon stops by to blow holes in their work and eat the writer’s favorite character. There are a number of ways to handle a dragon in fiction. It can be big and mean and slain by some gallant knight. Most dragons have magic to go with their fire-breathing or acid-spitting ways so they might turn into a shape that can be coped with – a beautiful human with a slightly scaly appearance. It might talk. It might hoard treasure. It might be inclined to help a human, do so for a price, or it might simply burn villages to the ground until a suitable number of virgins are sacrificed to it. Fictionally speaking.
The reality of the dragon is less enthralling. They don’t leave any readers to make anything of the lovely fictional dragons that fly about in our fancies. Always, dragons have been there. In every bit of history we have access to, there are dragons. Some friendly if you go east. Some less so. Some slain by saints and knights. Some simply sleeping and posing as a mountain. Let us be careful never to wake the dragons. For one thing is true, to a dragon, we are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
However, the dragon on my cup does not sour the goodness of morning’s first sip of coffee. So another day revising and hoping my character can find a way to escape the dragon he mistook for a mountain.
“For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom.”
Ursula Le Guin 1929-2018
I write fantasy. This is spot on, and I have nothing that I can add.
So this happened. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump of The Apprentice is president of the United States (a joke made on The Simpsons in 1997- not even kidding), and The Atlanta Falcons are headed to the Super Bowl.
This is not normal. Being from Georgia, I am thrilled about the Falcons. Just amazed, startled. Like everything that has happened in the last 12 or so months, this is simply not the expected result. All that has happened is not necessarily bad, just odd. Reality has crashed into the bizarre.
Disturbedly, my current book, a fantasy full of magic and all sorts of mystical creatures is far less odd than the real world. It makes me worry for my genre.
At this point, if dragons suddenly emerged and took over the world, it might be less insane than the current goings on in the world. And that would quite spoil my book sales.
Frankie, my pug, also quite magical, tells me to relax. Probably, Frankie says, I am simply in purgatory and to move on to something more wondrous, I must keep writing. So that’s the plan. For now.
If I manage to finish this book, find an agent, and publish this year despite having to reside in bizarro world, then I will know I have moved on. So back at it.