I believe that fantasy makes a person’s normal life more livable. Everyday life can be really stressful, and I find that a good book helps me calm down considerably. If I’ve had a bad day, it always makes me feel better to know that there are some disasters that can never happen. For example, if I’m positive I’ve failed a chemistry test, at least I know a great fat dragon won’t ever come into Snohomish and start eating all the virgins. It’s a very comforting thought. Sure, I might get a C in chemistry, but at least I won’t be dinner for a dragon.
Writing fantasy is also another way for me to assure myself that things could be much worse. I can make my characters do whatever I want them to, and there are no consequences for me, except maybe feeling a bit guilty for setting a dragon on a virgin-rich village. I always feel better after imposing some natural disaster or other life threatening event on a too-prosperous city. Nonfiction can tell you all about how the world is now, but fiction and fantasy can tell you how it could be, and how lucky you are that it isn’t.
Fiction helps me realize how lucky we are that we don’t live in Gondor or in the Wizarding World because things just seem so much more complicated there. We don’t have to deal with dark lords or gigantic armies of orcs marching on our homely hobbit holes. Politics are bad enough without the addition of magic. I am very grateful to writers of fantasy for showing me how lucky we are to live the way we do. Our normal lives may be lacking excitement and adventure, but usually ordinary people who get sucked into thrilling adventures end up with more problems than they started with. I’m glad I can learn morals and life lessons without having to venture across the Mighty Desert to consult the all-powerful Oracle of the Far East.
Stories have made me appreciate how convenient my life is and that the lousy things that happen to me don’t seem quite as lousy. I really think that people should read fiction more; it will help them appreciate the lives they have. My favorite author, Terry Pratchett, is an excellent satirical writer. His stories have shown me how ridiculous life can be, and how important it is remember that things are never as bad as they could be. I think quite a few people could benefit from reading his books; I know I have. My belief has helped me understand that if I’d failed a chemistry test in Harry Potter, I’d be missing an eyebrow, not to mention the test points.
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