It takes a LOT to get me walking anywhere, let alone halfway up Black Mountain, which last week looked like this:
But when I heard there were dinosaurs (on loan from the Dinosaur Museum) lurking in the National Botanic Garden rainforest (and tundra, and desert, etc) I just had to go.
One of the up sides to having children is that they make you bother getting up and doing cool things like this.
I have an unusually tactless cousin who I rarely see (not because he’s tactless, but because I don’t like him anyway). We caught up at some family event sometime, and I said I write a lot of young adult fantasy. He had two questions about that:
- Do you write for young adults because you’ve never grown up?
- Do you write fantasy because you can’t deal with normal reality?
To which I say a hearty, “Yes and yes”.
Of course the reality is more complex. I like writing (and reading) YA because it’s fast-paced and exciting, and usually a little less intense in its sex and violence (I can develop a case of PTSD from a single graphic scene). I’m fascinated by themes of self-identity, friendship, family and hard-won independence.
I’m well past the age where I felt like I was only pretending to be an adult. At the same time, a lot of the markers of adulthood have been stolen from me. I have never and almost certainly will never be financially independent (I’ve been chronically ill and/or mentally ill for all of my adult life) and I have some mild brain damage which makes my mind behave a lot like I’m in the early stages of alzheimer’s disease. Along with the other stuff, this often makes me feel like an adult trapped inside a whiny, lazy, angsty, and unreliable teenage reality. So in some ways I really haven’t grown up, and never will. This drives me nuts (and loses me many good friends) but perhaps it’s for the best in the end.
Fantasy is interesting. As a nerd, I love the idea of power coming from the mind of a character rather than (for example) exercise or physical strength. I also find fantasy inspires me to deal with reality because it lends itself to such universal and hopeful themes: Good triumphing over evil despite enormous odds, a despised child becoming the hero and saving their tormentors, etc. After many years of crippling depression, the odds of ever being a healthy or well-balanced person are perilously low. Yet when I first became a mother (something that usually sends sane people mad) I found myself much stronger and more capable than before. How did that happen? Did the Power of Love (TM) really save the day?
So you can grow out of fairy tales if you like, but I’ll be here: Still believing.
Apart from anything else, I have my own magic. I create worlds and people our of thin air, with extraordinary ease and (arguably) skill. It might not make me a grown up, but it does make the world better. Which is all I ever really wanted to do.