Writing is a really strange thing to do. When you sit down and write, you automatically imply that you are best qualified to talk about whatever it is you’re going to talk about, or else you wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. And this can be anything, either fiction or non-fiction, self-help books, cook books, fantasy novels, comedy. When you decide that you’re going to write several hundred pages about a certain topic, you need to be absolutely certain you know what you’re talking about, or else you’re just putting yourself up for ridicule and humiliation from everyone who knows you’re talking out of your ass.
I wouldn’t write a cookbook or a self-help book; I can’t even cook rice without making it look like mashed potatoes, nor can I tell you how to fix your marriage. And nobody would expect me to — I’m not a Master Chef or a psych grad (not that most of those kids find jobs anyway). So, with that in mind, I just have to ask myself sometimes… why do I feel different when it comes to fantasy? I have no formal education in anything that would have to do with it — history, culture, languages, geography. And to be completely honest, I’m not even formally trained in writing.
Should I feel inadequate? Should I feel like I’ll always be behind because I don’t have any training or education? Is writing really something that can be taught, or can a person hone the ability from his self-teaching? It’s really difficult to think about it because half of me does want to go to school for Creative Writing or Literature or whatever, while the other half thinks about all the Writing majors who work at McDonald’s. At this point it really comes to, do I want to put my life on the line? Do I want to risk taking a Writing major just to polish my skills, even though it’s probably much more likely, realistically, that nothing will ever happen? Or do I want to play it safe and take something like, Computer Science just to ensure that I’ll have a job even if my book fails? And then I think, if I don’t take the Writing major in the first place, that may be the reason why the book failed. Hypothetically.
And then on the topic of fantasy itself: what is fantasy? What makes someone qualified to write about it? Admittedly, anyone could probably write it — hell, you can find thousands if not millions of unpublished stories on the internet. But again, anyone could write a cook book or a self-help book; what matters is the quality. So the same rules therefore should be applied to fantasy — and what knowledge would a person need to write quality fantasy?
Personally, I think you just need to be able to understand people. You need to know how people interact and how emotions develop, and you need to be able to present this in a cohesive yet interesting manner. Things need to happen seamlessly; real-world developments need to occur, realistically, in your fantasy environment. People need to be able to relate and understand the story at the simplest level, so that they can see parallels of it in their everyday lives. Because what makes a story good is not how many different and strange creatures you’ve thought up, but how well it draws us in emotionally. I feel like this is the problem with so much fantasy these days, and I know I’ve said this a lot, but I repeat it because it’s so true. I’m sure there are some people out there who enjoy this kind of soulless reading, but I wouldn’t doubt that most people don’t.
But really again, who am I to say this. I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all, that’s the last thing I want to be, but I do like to think that my work isn’t just piddle. But I’m sure everyone thinks that, right? So for now, I’ll just hide away on this little blog of mine and wait for my time… hopefully. I do know I have one problem — I have trouble sticking to my topic. It’s a blog post, though, so!