Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fantasyland

I always remember Lisabet saying to me that she was sure I'd lived some of the things I'd written about. But although her saying so is probably one of the best compliments I've ever received, I have to confess.

It isn't true. I've never lived one single damned thing in any of my stories or novellas or novels. I mean, of course I've experienced the rudimentary basics. I've actually had real sex, with a live human man. I've done some of the other stuff, too- put on socks, smiled at someone, eaten a metric ton of Chinese food. Licked someone's inner thigh, etc.

But the guts of my stories, the strange events and crazy interactions that make up my fiction? I've never done any of that, in reality. I've never spent Christmas at some hot dude's home, wildly bonking him in amongst cutsie happenings with his nice family- ala Waiting In Vain.

I've never done dirty things on a train as in Dirty Disgusting You from The Things That Make Me Give In. I've never tied someone up in a barn or messed around with a trying-to-be-a-hardass cop, as in other stories from TTTMMGI, either. And if I've never done any of those things, it goes without saying that I've never bantered with a hot space pirate while being attacked by insane robots, as in The Horizon.

Most woefully, I've never had a threesome, either. And certainly I've never had a threesome with hot dudes from the future who've forgotten what girls are like.

And if I'm honest, I think the reason for this boils down to one simple factoid (if you exclude my future set stories and my paranormal stories and accept the idea that I don't actually have a time machine or a space ship or a strange relationship with a fairy-dude): I'm not as brave, in reality, as I am in fiction.

Which seems obvious- because who is? Fiction can be moulded, pushed around, bullied, even. Fiction does what you tell it to do, and the characters in it can never let you down. They can't hurt you in ways you completely didn't expect them to, or even worse- do something so bleakly mundane and nothing that it hurts even worse than if they had thrown something in your face.

Only somehow, I don't think it's that obvious. I don't think the reason that I'm brave in the fictional world has anything to do with fiction being malleable, because really, at most points in my stories I don't know if the hero is going to let the heroine down, or not. I write, and sometimes the hero bares his teeth, at the end. She thought he was a good guy, but really he turns out to have been an evil space alien vampire, all along!

Which is undoubtedly worse than some friend you thought you had never emailing you again.

Or maybe it's not. I don't know. I want my heroines to be brave, where I am not- maybe because the stakes are actually higher. She's busy approaching strangers, and fighting space alien vampires, and almost dying. The hero could be anything at any time, and whether I punish her or not turns on a dime.

But that bravery- the reason I make her brave where I am not- is because THAT'S living. I can't play that high stakes, but she can. Reality can be wonderful precisely because it's real, but it can also be petty and dull and just so...wearying.

But fiction isn't any of that. If fiction is that, I haven't done my job. I haven't done right by my heroine, and my hero. I want them to go through the mad sexcapades and the battles to the death, precisely because I do not. I want escape, and they give it to me.

And then I come back down to earth, and every petty, dull, weary thing is just that little bit brighter, for those brief moments I have in Fantasyland.

8 comments:

  1. Charlotte,

    You're braver than you credit yourself. It takes ballls to write any of the scenarios you produce. It takes guts and courages to get them shaped and put them out there for readers to enjoy.

    Please carry on being so brave :-)

    Best,

    Ash

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  2. Charlotte - anyone who lets other people read what they've written is brave. That's exposing your soul. After that, alien space fangers seem manageable.

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  3. Ashley- what a lovely thing to say! I promise I will. I must confess, I've never really thought of putting my work out there as brave, but I suppose it is!

    Kathleen- You're right. I bet alien space vampires would run in fright, at the thought of having to read aloud their poetry. "I have sharp teeth, but my soul is soft. You see an alien, but really we're the same."

    Awww. They're big softies, really!

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  4. I heard that they're total microphone hogs

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  5. Charlotte,

    I'm still not sure that I believe you.

    If it's true that your stories are nearly 100% fantasy, then you're an even better writer than I thought!

    Warmly,
    Lisabet

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  6. Kathleen- LOL!

    Lisabet- I promise you, it's true! I write because I want to experience things I've never done, in a fictional, vicarious sort of way.

    Which is probably why I envy you. You write a lot of your stuff from experience, which takes as much talent to do as writing without it. How you manage to create sparkling fiction without all the little irelevancies and mundanities of real life, I don't know!

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  7. What an interesting take, Charlotte. Ah, I actually felt nostalgic about reading The Things That Make Me Give In when you mentioned a few of the stories in it (especially since "Just Be Good" is my favorite). :) I found it such a brilliant book.

    I agree with what has been said here about bravery and writing and sharing it. And frankly, it seems brave to me to recognize, acknowledge and act on "want[ing] to experience things I've never done in a fictional, vicarious sort of way" in a sexual context. In a culture that seems to act strangely inhibited and pubescent about sex sometimes, such an act seems valuably brave and insightful to me.

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  8. Emerald- you're a sweetheart. Never had someone be nostalgic about my work, before! And you're right, re: sex. Even vicarious sexual expression can be brave, when faced with some of the weird restrictive attitudes around!

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