A Passion for Fantasy
On Saturday I visited the Hagley Writers’ Institute and one of the questions I was asked included whether or not the fact that I write Fantasy fiction meant that I had a passion for Fantasy.
Those of you who follow me will know that I have spoken of my love for the style of fiction characterized as Fantasy on several occasions, including how that love evolved and the journey to writing my own books. Some of those posts include:
- My recent Gemmell Award essay, “Why I Chose To Write Fantasy & Writing Influences”
And last year’s post on “Why Epic Fantasy”
- I also began my Blog Tour for the launch of The Gathering of the Lost, The Wall of Night Book Two with a post on SF Signal titled “Celebrating Epic Fantasy…”
And if you look under the Epic Fantasy category in the far right side bar you’ll find a whole bunch of posts basically dedicated to aspects of the genre that I love, the heroes and heroines, and the world building, not to mention the sheer fun.
So yes, my colours have been well and truly nailed to the public mast, as well as being worn on my sleeve: hear this world — Helen Lowe loves Fantasy!
But as I have also alluded to from time to time, more in the body of posts rather than as a specific feature, writing can be a tough game. It’s a solitary occupation and the rewards — either financial or intrinsic — are uncertain at best.
So what I said in my reply on Saturday, was that I found it hard to envisage how one could sustain oneself in a writing life if one did not feel passionate about your work. I think if I got up in the morning and thought “meh, Fantasy” I would find some other sort of tale to tell. And if I got up in the morning and thought, “meh, writing” then I doubt I would be an author. I wouldn’t have the right kind of fuel in my engines for the sort of sustained effort required to produce books.
And although I have not met a huge cross section of fellow writers, those I have met do all seem to be passionate about the style of writing they do. Usually, it seems, the kind of stories we burn to tell, are also those we love to read. In fact, it is exactly that symbiosis I was alluding to in my recent guest post on the Supernatural Underground, where I talked about the awesomeness of other writers’ stories being part of what keeps me going.
Writing what you love also relates to another question I tried to answer on Saturday, which was about how to write a winning query letter. It goes without saying that there is no formula, but what I truly believe is that to have any hope of success, we must write the query letter from the heart, in a way that is true to ourselves / our story. If we do that, there is a chance the sincerity and authenticity of the query may resonate with the letter’s recipient, i.e. we may just get lucky and find someone who is on the right/same wavelength. Conversely, most of us are pretty quick to spot a fake — the person pretending to be something they’re not (for whatever reason.)
So “be yourself” and “speak from your heart” was the only advice that I felt I could give. But this, I feel, is equally true of books as it is of query letters. If we are not writing what we love, from the heart, then I think that lack of authenticity will come through to readers. So although there is no guarantee of success for books, anymore than there is for query letters, I do feel that being true to ourselves and to our muse, and writing from the heart, are essential prerequisites for authentic fiction.
And if our fiction is indeed authentic there may be a hope — although no more than that can be guaranteed — our books will be able to go out into the world and find readers.