Monday, 23 December 2013

To a Beautiful Broken Boy

His head on her chest,
he sleeps through ‘til morning
but the nightmares still find him –
his mind is screaming –
and the raven that haunts him is calling his name.
The branches that tap at his window
remain forever bare,
leaves litter the ground beneath his foot,
soon to turn to dust
as the pages of books left high upon shelves –
or, set ablaze in a passionate rage.
And his heart beats a rhythm only he can hear,
a drum to which his own personal devil dances
around the fires of his thoughts.
His blood sings – a beautiful, melancholy song –
as it pours from the quill in his hand
on to the page before him
and mixes with his tears that fall from the sky
as rain.
He awakes – struggling for air –
clawing at the invisible hands that hold him down,
his breath comes hard and fast,
roaring in his lungs,
his brain clings to images of those terrible dreams
and – stumbling – he flees
from the arms that held him,
and in his darkest nights comforted him,
and in his haste he leaves behind him his shadow
to be locked away in a drawer.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Zodiac Story

So a short story that I wrote for a fellow writer's blog is up. It is very loosely based on the zodiac sign Aquarius. Please take a look and check out the other stuff on there too, there are some great writers in there!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Writing Challenge: A Childhood Memory

The first of my completed writing challenges; a short story based on a memory from my childhood. I hope you enjoy! And do please let me know what you think.

The Reader

The light from her bedside lamp only reached a few feet, leaving most of her bedroom in darkness except for the small orb that illuminated the corner of the room where the head of her bed was. Where she now sat, knees bent up to her chest and a book in her hands; the words just visible in the dim glow from the lamp. When she read, she could get lost for hours, days even, in the imaginary worlds held within the pages of her favourite books. Sitting in the clouds that surrounded the highest branches of the Faraway tree; sharing stories with Peter and the Lost Boys, hidden in their house, underground in Neverland.

Hiding in that big, old wardrobe in the spare room; playing hide and seek. She peeked out through the small crack between the doors that had been left slightly open. She could hear someone coming, so she moved back to hide among the coats that were hanging in the wardrobe. She gasped as her hand brushed against something cold and wet and she turned to look at what should have been the back of the wardrobe. Instead, she discovered the source of all that cold and wet; snow. Trees, covered in snow. A whole forest hidden inside a wardrobe; how odd. And it was winter here, even though, on the other side of the wardrobe it was a wet English summer. As she stood on the edge of that midwinter forest, she shivered. Reaching back into the wardrobe she grabbed one of the large, fur coats that hung there and wrapped it around herself. The coat was soft and warm, and the cold of the snow couldn't penetrate it. With tentative, yet curious, steps she made her way through the snow-laden trees until she came to a clearing. She stopped at the tree-line, peering into the clearing, in the middle of which stood...

The door to her bedroom creaked open and her father, looking somewhat annoyed, stood in the doorway. He looked down at her, then his gaze moved to the book in her hands and he let out a, slightly exasperated, sigh. Looking back at the innocent look on his daughter's face, he shook his head. "Put the book down, turn off the light and go to sleep." He then turned, closing the door behind him, and walked away down the hall. She listened for the creak and thud of her dad making his way down the stairs before turning back to the book she'd been reading.

Back in that land of winter, she was tramping through the deep snow, making her way back to that little cottage; the one where the fawn lived. The sound of footsteps crunching through fresh snow followed her, as the others tried to keep up. She saw the little house in the distance and broke into a run; as close as one could get to running through thick snow in galoshes that were too big and a heavy fur coat. Drawing nearer, she began to get a bad feeling, a strange tingling feeling in her spine, she could sense that something was wrong. The thick, grey smog that she would have expected to see pouring from the chimney stack, wasn't there. The air above the cottage was clear. Then she noticed the front door; it was open. And it was at a strange angle, almost like it was hanging from its hinges. In fact, as she reached the cottage she realised that it was hanging, as though it had been partly torn from its frame. Her head began to buzz with the possibilities of what could have happened to the poor creature, to whom that battered door belonged. Stuck to the front of the door was a sign that read...

Her bedroom door opened suddenly and her father no longer looked merely annoyed; he was angry. He stared down at her, muttering under his breath, words she couldn't quite make out. He always muttered when he was angry. "Put the book down, turn off the light and go to sleep", he said clearly. Then he waited, towering in the doorway, for her to comply with his orders. Slowly she closed her book, making a mental note of the page she'd reached, and placed it on the table at the side of her bed. Her dad sighed at her slow movements and so she quickly turned the light off and lay down, staring up into the darkness. Her dad then left, closing the door again, and made his way back downstairs. When she heard the door to the living room downstairs close, she rolled over and turned on her bedside light, picked up her book and found the last page she'd read.

Freezing cold and tired; her legs hurt from the long journey and her stomach grumbled and complained. The brief rest they had managed, had been in a damp cave, lying on hard, lumpy ground and her back hurt terribly. The atmosphere was rather miserable but they had to continue on. It was beginning to get light and as the sun rose, the temperature also began to rise. The warmth was very welcome and soon they were all beginning to remove the heavy coats that they'd put on when they first entered that cold land through the wardrobe in the spare room. Somewhere in the trees above them she could hear the bright, happy, chirping sound of birdsong and from somewhere deep in the forest she could hear the bubbling, tinkling laughter of running water; a brook or a stream. The cheerful sounds of spring lightened the mood somewhat and made them all more hopeful for the rest of their journey. From somewhere up ahead of them, she could hear a strange jingling sound, like that of bells. Keeping to the edge of the treeline for cover, they crept along in the direction of the sound. As they drew nearer to the source of the sound she could just see a large, red sleigh through the trees. Soon she realised who the sleigh belonged to and they all broke into a run, heading in the direction of the sleigh and the figure of...

The door of her bedroom burst open, making her jump in shock. Once more, her dad stood in the doorway looking down at her, a look of anger on his features. "Put the book down, turn off the light and go to sleep." This time not only did he wait while she put her book down and turned off the light, but he remained standing there for another minute at least after she'd rolled over, to make sure that she got the message. Once he was satisfied that she was finally going to go to sleep he closed the door and went to bed himself. Lying on her side, she held her breath until she heard the door of her parents' bedroom close behind her father and the squeak of the bed springs as he climbed into bed. Then she sat up again, switched her bedside light on and picked up her book where she'd left off.

They made their way through the crowd of creatures; fawns, centaurs, minotaurs all gathered in the battle camp. As they walked, the crowd parted for them to pass and all eyes followed their progress towards the large, colourful tent of the battle chief. When they reached the bottom of the steps in front of the tent, all went silent around them as the eyes of every creature and person gathered focused on the doorway of the tent. She felt a sense of awe as the heavy silence built around them. She couldn't describe the sensation that overcame her as she waited to meet the one they all talked about; her heart was pounding in her chest, her palms were sweating and she couldn't take her eyes off the front of the tent that stood on the platform above them. Suddenly the blare of ceremonial trumpets sounded, leaving her ears ringing, and the flaps of the tent were drawn apart by two guards to allow a great figure to emerge from within the dimness of the tent; the figure of a...

Her father was even more furious this time as he flung the door to her bedroom wide open. "Put the book down. Turn off the light. And go. To. Sleep." She quickly put her book on the bedside table and switched her lamp off. Then she rolled over and pretended to try to go to sleep. After a minute her father spoke again, "This is your last warning." And then he closed the door. She lay in bed listening. She couldn't hear her father's footsteps retreating towards his bedroom, which meant that he was still outside her bedroom door, waiting to see if she would turn her light on again. She waited in the dark until she heard the floor of the hall creak under her dad's feet as he returned to his own room. After another minute of lying in the dark, she rolled over and, once more, turned on her bedside light and picked up her book.

Weeping over the dead body of the great lion she tried desperately to untie the ropes that bound him to the great stone table. Eyes full of tears, her vision was blurred and she couldn't see the knots properly. Her hands shook from cold and grief and she couldn't undo the knots no matter how hard she tried. The more she worked at the ropes the sweatier her palms and fingers became and the more difficult she found it. She screamed in frustration, beating her palms against the cold, hard stone of the table he lay on. The knots were simply too tight and the more desperately she tried to free him, the tighter they became and the more difficult it was for her to find any purchase on the rope. Eventually she gave in and collapsed across his body, crying into his still warm fur, clutching his thick mane in her small hands. She fell asleep, lying on top of him on that grand stone table, but when she awoke in the light of the morning...

"Put the book down! Turn off the light! And. Go. To. Sleep!" Her father shouted as he threw open her bedroom door. She didn't hesitate in putting her book down and switching off her lamp, then rolling over in bed to go to sleep. "I mean it, this really is your last warning." He shut her door and went straight back to his own bedroom. She lay on her side in bed, not daring to move. She lay there for what felt like ages, unable to sleep. Eventually she heard the loud snores of her father, who had obviously fallen asleep, coming from her parents' room. She waited another few minutes, as the snores got louder, before rolling over and reaching for her book. She listened again, to make sure that her father was still fast asleep, and then turned on her bedside light and settled in to read.


The next morning she awoke, at the sound of her alarm, to find the light from her bedside lamp added to by the light from the sun streaming in through her bedroom curtains. After turning off the alarm, she felt around for her book and then, looking over the side of her bed, noticed it splayed on the floor. She had obviously fallen asleep whilst reading, again. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and reached down to pick up her book. She placed it on her bedside table and then switched off the lamp, the light of which was rather redundant at this time of morning. Then she got up and stretched, yawning from tiredness.

Writing Challenges

I've decided to set myself a series of writing challenges because I'm a bit rubbish at disciplining myself when it comes to writing. The idea actually came to me when someone who's blog I follow asked for people to do a writing challenge based on the twelve signs of the Zodiac. They asked people to pick a sign (the first twelve to pick different signs are the twelve who are doing the challenge) and then write either a short story or a poem or mini-essay loosely related to that sign. I decided to do this challenge and so picked the sign Aquarius. I have a vague idea of what I'm going to write and I will post it on here when I've finished it, but the challenge gave me the idea to set myself a series of challenges to write short stories based on a variety of themes. I only have a few ideas at the moment so other ideas would be much appreciated.

My ideas so far are:
  • The Zodiac Challenge
  • To write a short story based on a memory from my childhood
  • To write a fairy tale
  • Tell a story through a fake newspaper article 
  • Write about somewhere I've visited 
I said I only had a few ideas. So I want to ask anyone who reads this to give me some other ideas. They could be themes or just a random word and I will add it to my list and challenge myself to write something based (though possibly quite loosely) on the suggestion. Either comment on this post or if you know me personally you can message me on Facebook or by email. I will try to do each suggestion within a week or two but please bear with me if it takes longer than that. I will post each challenge on this blog and I will also post on Facebook when I have completed each challenge for those of you who know me personally and are friends with me on Facebook. 

Thanks and I hope I get some suggestions from people. 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

I've been thinking about words...

I love words. Anyone who knows me can testify to this. Words are in my blood. They inhabit my brain like a bunch of rowdy squatters inhabiting an old, beaten down building - until they get kicked out because the building is being renovated for another purpose, or it's just getting torn down. I've always loved to read; books are like food to my knowledge-hungry brain. And of course they are composed of those most beautiful notes; words! And for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. When I was in therapy I would get told off for using too many words. I would get so caught up in the jumble of words that run and collide within my brain, and on their way out of my mouth, that I never quite got to the point. I've often been told that I am very 'eloquent' when it comes to my verbal communications. The same could be said of my written communications also. I have often been praised for my extensive vocabulary.

I am also often praised for my ability to recall and recite passages of other people's work; I have the great skill of being able to quote others. Given the amount I read and my ardent love of words, it's not really surprising that, when I come across an apt phrase - a string of words so connected in a way as to induce some kind of epiphany or even an immediate love affair - I have to store it away in the palace of my mind for future reference. And then, when my brain deems the timing to be appropriate - and often when it isn't appropriate - it will throw out one, or several, of these pithy quotations to sum up my feelings or opinions on the matter. However, as I cannot actually claim the words as my own - that would be called plagiarism, and is frowned upon within decent society - can I really claim them as expressing my own opinion? To quote (behold the irony) Oscar Wilde, "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." Everyone's thoughts and beliefs and opinions are influenced by others. That's life. Psychologists have spent decades arguing the 'nature/nurture' debate - only for most of them to take the diplomatic route of suggesting that both play a part in how people's identities are formed and developed. The 'nurture' side of the debate tells us that all of our thoughts and beliefs and even our actions are influenced by our environments as we grow up and develop. With this in mind, can anyone claim to have completely independent thoughts? Or are, as the good Mr Wilde so aptly put it - and why not use his words instead of my own, since my own are just someone else's anyway - our thoughts simply 'someone else's opinions'?

To continue on this path of quoting others rather than attempting to produce something approaching that ideal - 'independent thought' - Mr Wilde also says, of quotations, "Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit." Perhaps it is not that we are incapable of independent thought but rather that we believe other people's thoughts or opinions to be more intelligent or witty than anything we might come up with ourselves and so, instead of saying something unique but potentially incredibly stupid, we quote others in order to make ourselves appear more intelligent than we actually are. I am praised for my ability to recall quotations because it is believed to be a sign of one who is well read. Well, I stated that I love to read, and I do read a great deal, but that doesn't necessarily constitute my being 'well read'. Yes, I enjoy reading classic literature and I can quote the likes of Mr Wilde to make myself sound intelligent and distinguished and well read, but I am no more distinguished than any other person who can read something and remember it in order to use it later on in conversation. And as for being well read, I enjoy reading - often badly written - vampire fiction, which in the minds of most people hardly constitutes being 'well read'. In the minds of many, I'm little better than any pre-pubescent teenage girl who's read the 'Twilight Saga'. It's hardly cutting edge literature.

Oscar Wilde is one of the most quoted people in the world, which takes the irony of the quotes I have taken from him for this post to a whole new level, in my mind. I've actually heard people quote the second quote - "Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit" - in conversation, to belittle others who have quoted someone in the same conversation. It's almost laughable; the idiocy of some people.

I would like to think that it is, perhaps even only occasionally, possible for one to produce an independent thought. Whether it's unique is besides the point. Nothing these days is unique. Everything has been thought, said or done before by someone, somewhere. But thought that is independent in the sense that it is the actual belief of the person who comes out with it and not just them spouting the beliefs of someone else that they happened to hear somewhere. It would be nice to think that it were possible. Though, I suppose, independent thought, in the true sense of the term, as being thought that is wholly unaffected by external influences isn't really possible, because even if it's not quoted or approximated from anyone or anything else, it will still have been influenced by some aspect of one's experiences. I guess what I'm really saying is that I like to believe that genuine thought is possible, even if it is neither independent or unique.

As for unique thought. I said, in the paragraph above, that nothing is unique. It really isn't. There's a kind of joke that science-fiction only ever has seven basic story lines. Sure they might be portrayed in countless different ways, but the basic plot always seems to be the same. I figure that the same could actually be said for a lot of genres, if not for literature in general (though that may be stretching it a little far). Scholars believe that even Shakespeare, the great wordsmith, took the plots for many, if not all, of his plays from other works by other people. Many are disappointed to think that Shakespeare, of all people, might have been, to some extent, a fraud. But if no one is capable of producing completely unique and independent ideas, is it really fraudulent? Many writers are also readers. They get ideas and inspiration from what they read. I find myself reading some amazing works of literature and wishing and praying that I could write as well as that particular author. Or that I could have written something as amazing as what is on the page before me. I get ideas and inspiration from so many places. But I hardly ever actually write them. I have this ideal in my head, of writing something completely unique and wonderful and it being completely loved and adored by all who read it. Of course the latter half of that dream is impossible because literature is personal and people have different tastes. Not everyone is going to love the same thing. And so not everyone will love what I write. And I'm beginning to realise that, perhaps, the first part of that ideal is also completely unrealistic, because my thoughts and ideas are influenced by what I read and by the things I experience, and nothing is unique, so how can I expect myself to write something completely unique?

The inspiration for this post came from a song by Damien Rice called 'Delicate'. There's a line in the song that says, "Why d'you fill my sorrow with the words you've borrowed from the only place you've known?" I don't know what Damien Rice's intended meaning for this lyric was, but to me, within the context of the rest of the song, it speaks of a lover being unable to express their feelings in their own words; only expressing their emotions and their love through the words of others. I figure most people find it rather romantic to have things quoted to them - depending on the content of the quote obviously. And, being a massive fan of quotations, as I think I have demonstrated, I used to hold the same opinion. But now, understanding the fragility and rarity of genuine personal thoughts and opinions, I would find it more romantic if someone were to tell me how they feel in their own words, even if those words lacked the appearance of elegance or flowery vocabulary. It is a sorrowful thing indeed if someone can't find their own way of telling you that they love you.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Why I love literature!, and, Learning about writing from 'The Angel's Game' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

'The Angel's Game' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a brilliant example of 'Metafiction'. "'Metafiction' is the literary term describing fictional writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection." (quote taken from: 'The Angel's Game' is Metafiction as it acknowledges the existence of the author and the reader and of it's own existence as a piece of literature. This is made evident through the frequent dialogues between the protagonist, a struggling writer named David Martin, and his mysterious, and down-right creepy, publisher, Andreas Corelli and between David and his young assistant, Isabella. 

The novel is a kind of ghost story, following David Martin's journey of self-discovery and his attempts to uncover the mystery behind the death of another author, Diego Marlasca, who once owned the house in which David now lives, and the connection between this mysterious death and his strange publisher, Corelli. Underpinning the purely fantastical plot is a running dialogue or commentary regarding what it is to write and to be a writer. The discussions, between David and Isabella especially, are somewhat reminiscent of the book, by Rainer Maria Rilke, 'Letters to a Young Poet', which is a record of the correspondence between Rilke and an aspiring young writer who writes to Rilke asking for his critique and how one becomes a writer. Rilke's response is this, "Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write"; basically telling the young writer that, if all he can think about is being a writer and feels that he might die if he is denied the ability to do so, then he is a writer. 

David's journey through the novel shows him, first, losing his physical existence to his writing. His labours in producing novel after novel for a disreputable publishing duo see his physical health decline rapidly to the point that he is on the verge of death because he has worked himself, almost literally, to the bone. But then, he is approached by Corelli who, in some kind of modernist Faustian deal, commissions David to write a religious text; or rather to create a religion, which then sees David lose his mind and even his soul to the work he is producing. One of the settings for the novel is a bookshop called 'Sempere and Sons'. The owner of the shop, Senor Sempere, is a literary sympathiser. He has known David since he was a young boy when he frequently visited the shop to read and buy books without his illiterate father knowing. Senor Sempere supported David's passions for reading and writing and is known for holding the belief that an author leaves part of their soul in their writing; that the work they produce is a part of them. This is clearly evident in the case of David and this book he has been commissioned to write, by Corelli.

When Sempere requests that David take on the young Isabella as an assistant and to teach her how to become a writer he is displeased. But he takes on the young woman and begins to try to teach her how to become a writer. Among the lessons he teaches her, one of the first is how to procrastinate; something all writers are experts at. I myself can find any excuse under the sun to not write. Another lesson he teaches her, this time consciously, is this; "Inspiration comes when you stick your elbows on the table, your bottom on the chair and you start sweating. Choose a theme, an idea, and squeeze your brain until it hurts. That's called inspiration." This is a lesson I need to learn. My usual excuse for not writing is that I lack inspiration. I have been aware that, for some time, I have been lacking discipline in my writing and I have been wanting to change that and wanting to write more. But still I complain that I have no inspiration and I give up; far too easily. But I find that if I sit for long enough, and concentrate really hard, I can usually come up with something. This post, for example, is something that I have been toying with for a few days now but I have lacked the discipline to actually make myself write it. But tonight, when I forced myself to sit down in front of my laptop, and not move, I have managed to produce something close to what I originally intended. I guess that's another excuse; I am never satisfied with how my writing turns out, especially if I have a pre-conceived idea of how it should be. But I guess the aim of the exercise isn't to produce something perfect (that's what editing is for) but it's just to produce something.

I like to think of myself as a writer. I've always loved to write and always wanted to become a writer but I've never had very much discipline. Reading books like 'The Angel's Game' always inspire me and make me wish I could write like the authors of such wonderful pieces of art. But the truth is that the inspiration is short-lived and I may never write like these authors, but I certainly won't unless I have discipline in my writing. I'm returning to University in September to study English Literature with Creative Writing - my two great loves - and I want to be more disciplined by then, because if I'm going to study Creative Writing, and have to produce creative portfolios, I'm going to have to become a disciplined writer and the earlier I start, the better. Also, every vocation requires some kind of discipline and if I am really serious about being a writer then I need to get on board. And seeing as I am currently among the ranks of the unemployed, I have plenty of time with which to develop this discipline. So hopefully this is the first of many bouts of 'inspiration' of the kind that David Martin talks of in 'The Angel's Game'; of just sticking my elbows on the table; my bottom on the chair; sweating and squeezing my brain until it hurts!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

happiness is...

Words and Strange Voices - Personal Blog

Words and Strange Voices

that moment when...

happily ever after part two

At church this morning I was thinking about books. (See my post Happily Ever Afters.) I was thinking about how popular literature is currently very fantasy based; how it is an escape from real life. The preach at church was about 'What happens when we die?' and Pete, who was speaking, focused on how any works you do now, as a work for the Lord, will not be in vain. He cited 1 Corinthians 15:58, which says, 'Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.' The preach was very good and I took a lot away from it, but it made me think about the Bible. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the word of God; that it is His truth. Pete also talked about hope. Hope doesn't have the answers, nor is it a form of escapism. But God gives us hope in order that we might persist and persevere; that what we do now in His name and in hope, will not be in vain. I was also thinking about how, psychologically speaking, faith seems to fulfil the desires of the human mind, especially my desires. Many psychologists believe that God was created by man to fulfil these desires and that believing in Him is just a fantasy; an escape. But unlike the fantasy books I read to escape from real life, the Bible is true. It doesn't give us an escape from life; it helps us to deal with life, with God. It gives us hope. And teaches us to live life in such a way that, though it isn't perfect, we can be joyful in God. More people should turn to the Bible rather than fiction, because it is the truth and it maintains us and gives us hope. Perhaps if we turned to God more, we wouldn't be so desperate to escape our lives. The only thing the Bible really has in common with fantasy fiction is the 'happily ever after'.

This post is rather unfocused and probably doesn't make sense to anyone but me, so I apologise if you think it's a load of rubbish. But it made sense in my head. In the strange way that things in my head make sense...

the reader...

happily ever afters

I was talking to a friend at church today about books. The conversation was linked to University (I'm going back to study English Literature and Creative Writing) and to a part time job I've applied for in a bookshop and to the novel that I am currently attempting to write. The novel I'm writing is fantasy, one of my favourite genres, and we were discussing the recent increase in interest in fantasy fiction thanks to such books as 'The Hunger Games' and the release of the new film of 'The Hobbit'.

I have always loved fantasy. Ever since a very young age I have read, to escape from the real world and from real life. And what better genre for escapism than fantasy? So far removed from reality that it's often set in different worlds. And I realised that, what if the reason for the recent upwards trend in fantasy fiction is a sign of more and more people wishing to escape real life and enter into other worlds? Reading is generally considered a distraction and a great form of escapism. And in the current social and economic climate, where more and more people are suffering and living in poverty, who wouldn't want to escape from those things? Ok, so those living in poverty are unlikely to be able to afford books, in fact, it is well known that those who come from poorer backgrounds are less likely to be able to even read; which in twenty-first century England is just appalling. But it makes sense. During the wars, popular literature was based around austerity and hopes for a great future, once we won the war. And in other times, the arts have reflected the times, literature often being referred to in terms of periods, such as 'the Romantic' period, or 'the Gothic' era. That's why, in the study of literature, context plays a massive part. Subjects such as history, philosophy and psychology all have their place in the study of literature because of the impact they have on writing.

Take Dickens for example. His novels are considered to be social commentaries; the themes within his writing including poverty, social stratification, politics, crime and post-industrial revolution working conditions. Without some knowledge of these things around the time Dickens was writing, literary scholars would be unaware of the historical significance of his works. Fantasy fiction may not appear to have the same significance in the sense that the themes teach us little or nothing about the world as it is today, but the very fact that it is a currently popular genre in literature does say something about how literature, and perhaps the arts in general, are seen in modern society. In the past, writing has served many different purposes; didactic/moral messages, propaganda, social commentary and even just pure pleasure. And each has had its place. In more ostentatious times, reading was considered an accomplishment and pleasure for those of a certain class and literature reflects that with a wealth of stories centering around the higher classes and idealistic notions of love and money.

Now, reading is still considered a leisure activity and in being thus, the themes seem to be more for pure enjoyment than anything else. But suppose that, aside from the pleasure aspect, fantasy fiction serves another purpose. Fantasy is fun and exciting and daring, and shows great imagination, and part of its charm is that it's not true. It is the purest fiction. But why is that so captivating to modern readers? Why are we so desperate to dive into stories of things that do not and cannot exist? Is it just that real life is too much for us to bear? That we want some kind of distraction, or better yet, an escape? I suggest that this is the case. People are so out of love with their own lives and with the real world, that they want to escape into other worlds, where amazing creatures and magic exist, and everything always works out for the best. I should know. I have always used reading as a form of escape, and what better escape than fantasy. There's just something so enchanting about the idea of '...and they all lived happily ever after.'