I keep coming back to wanting to write a fantasy novel. It doesn’t make much sense, as far as personal dreams or plans for my future go; I’ve never written fiction, I’ve never studied creative writing, and the odds of anything actually getting published are probably similar to the odds of winning the lottery. But I still can’t shake the idea.
To be clear, the “idea” is as nebulous as any idea has ever been. It’s bounced from the bad (elves and dwarves but with an alien invasion!) to the vague (Final Fantasy XIV-inspired aesthetic?) to the done-to-death (an everyman’s Grand Journey™) to the “that seems too complicated to think through” (Zootopia-style animals but also with humans and also more adult (this one is also bad)). The farthest I’ve gotten concretely is that I want to write about someone and something that takes place somewhere fantastical. Baby steps!
I’ve written before that fantasy and sci-fi appeal to me largely because of their capacity to facilitate escape. I gravitate towards them even more so in difficult or turbulent times. In middle school—likely the hardest few years of my life—I completely immersed myself in video games. That was also the same time I remember first wanting to create my own escape, which took the form of an outline for a new video game named Lingot. I didn’t do anything beyond create a Word doc with some ideas for character names and abilities, a rough setting, some level design, and maybe a vague storyline. It was, as you might expect of a video game outline written by a thirteen-year-old, very bad! But sixteen years later and I still remember it as a project that brought me outsized fun and joy.
For whatever reason I never followed up on that joy and ambition. I don’t recall writing or creating anything creative in high school, and although I planned to study computer science in college and go into video game design, I dropped my first CS class because I hated it so much. And now here I am with a couple degrees and a career that couldn’t be less tailored for fictional creativity and creation if I tried.
Maybe that’s why I’m thinking about writing again. School has taken up most of my life and brainspace, and now that’s over. We’ve been in some version of quarantine/lockdown/masking for nearly two years now. I’m job hunting, which entails a certain level of taking stock of my life. Everything feels suspended—the deep breath before the plunge. And it’s this moment of suspension, I think, that has switched my brain onto the fantasy book track.
What I can’t figure out is if I’m latching onto escapism creation because I can see the inevitable plunge before me and that’s frightening, or because I’m wondering if there’s a different path to take. I’ll probably never know. But in this strange moment I think there’s value in contemplating what’s next and why. Who knows, maybe these paths converge later on. There’s nothing in the rules that says a lawyer can’t write fiction!
Maybe a grimdark Zootopia setting with human aliens??