Broken Glass and Summer Nights

Sometimes I can fall in love with writing.  Especially my genre of preference.

It’s like that moment in a backyard on a summer evening, when the sun has set and the world is shadowed but not all the blue dusk has fled from the sky, when the first stars are coming alight, when the crickets are singing somewhere in a nearby bush, when the fireflies are dancing beneath the tree-shadows, and at first glance the stunted pine across the yard looks like a crouching giant and still looks that way on second glance…

And all is glimmering or darkling and quiet, and if a troop (flock?  herd?) of faerie suddenly sprang from the bushes and scampered across the grass, you would be startled yet somehow not totally surprised.

That is what writing fantasy is to me.  It’s about finding those beautiful moments when the line between what is and what is not suddenly doesn’t seem so clear, when the very air about you us hushed as though waiting for something to happen.  It’s about finding a peice of the human experience and placing it beside a broken mirror so that you see it again, but all changed and from new angles and in ways you’d never thought aboutt it before.

It’s not about capturing reality with near-photographic accuracy, as the objectivists say, nor about capturing reality as I percieve it, as the subjectivists say, nor even about a mixing of both as the transjectivists… trans… the other guys say.  It’s about capturing reality as it might be.  Or might have been.  Mirrors, my friends–it’s all about mirrors.

Have you ever been in one of those Fun Houses with all the mirrors like they have in movie carnivals?  I’ve never actually seen one.  I want to, though.  Light reflecting off silver and glass, becoming at times so like the real thing that you cannot tell them apart, becoming at other times the real thing twisted and contorted into some new shape, and at yet other times becoming like nothing at all, only colors stolen from the real thing and swirled like all the contents of an artist’s paintbox dumped into a toilet while it’s flushing, so all the reds and blues and greens and funny flesh-tones are swallowed in the vortex whole of the thing.

And when you come out, you wonder if you are actually back in the “real” world, or if you’ve somehow accidentally stumbled into the world behind the mirrors, where most of the people are left-handed and all the writing is backward.

Some of us wonder if the “real” world was ever anything other than a mirror-reflection of something else entirely, a distorted element of something clearer and larger and so much more distinct.

Perhaps that is why in this life so much seems dim and confined and vague, and we cannot tell the giant from the pine tree or the faerie from the firefly, and need writers to bring us a glimpse of how things really are.

Or perhaps not.  Who can say for certain?


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