My Brand of Fantasy Magic

…isn’t really fantasy at all. Magical realism, perhaps?

I recently re-watched Constantine (starring The Man of One Face: Keanu Reeves), where the protagonist spends his life fighting to keep the balance between heaven and hell via magical relics, know-how, and insight into traveling to hell and back. He’s dark, brooding, quippy, and so self-destructive he’s dying of lung cancer. It’s a delve into what I consider magical realism: people, many people, believe wholeheartedly that the ability exists (even if it’s only for one person) to… insert random miracle here. Be it travel through hell, talk to the dead, turn water to wine, transform into a totem-animal, talk to rocks, converse with ancestors long dead, see auras, dowse, possess another person/animal.

A lot of people don’t. And that’s cool. A lot of people pursue religion as a form of self-government, so instead of spending the time to understand themselves, they look to religion: “This is bad (according to the Book), so I won’t do it.” It also kills multiple birds by creating a community of similar-thinking people, which reinforces the feeling of “this is right.” Which is cool. That’s what certain governmental bodies do. And we’re governed by many circles, be it personal, family, friends, religion, spiritual (separate from religion), communal, work, local, federal, world. And that’s just what I pulled off the top. This is a digression and I’ll stop it now. I’m trying to show how this also holds its own forms of power: any single one of these bubbles could specify “this is bad” and a person follow it simply because, well, someone says to. Even the “personal” circle. Which in itself is a form of mind control.

I had a simple purpose when I began writing twelve years ago: have fun, connect with people, share my thoughts. It’s still the same purpose, albeit a little evolved. My thoughts developed into something a little stronger: magic is real. Some magic is real. Not all. Magic Missiles and two hundred foot orc giants with enchanted tree trunks for armor isn’t. Science keeps trying to say it has all the answers worth knowing (while people touting Science as the new religion also try to say, like a marijuana enthusiast, Science has ALL the answers), but it doesn’t. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said, “That’s what’s so great about science. You don’t have to believe in it for it to be true. It exists without your permission.”

Mostly.

I know enough about Science to know the importance of “observable” and “human fallacy.” I’ve been reading about human beings having more than five senses. More like nine. Pressure, balance to name two. It really doesn’t matter how often Science revises what truths it accepts as fact. What matters is it’s always changing in its definition, always updating its databases.

Next, to define science into two subcategories: hard science (physics for one) and soft science (psychology for two). I know too many well-meaning Science worshippers who put it all together. Soft sciences, the stuff our thoughts are made of, the stuff of our dreaming, of our extra-sensories, of our deeper knowledge, of our abstract pattern recognitions, is very wide open and mostly unexplored, despite the 100 or so years we’ve had to study it. Why? Unobservable. Or, difficult to observe. Assumptions based on calculations and patterns of tests.

Magic is a soft science. In fact, eventually, all that “magic” will fall into some sub-sub category of either a sense or quirk of one or two chromosomes in some errant mutative family line (or, you know, something a person develops through meditation and a proven set of practices). Since our realities are subjected to the extent of our senses, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–to say I can’t dream another person’s dreams, for example. Or travel a place constructed wholly of peoples’ thoughts, over time, like a great big living world placed overtop our own. Or fight constructs of modern religion with sheer self-certainty alone.

We all give off energy. That’s a fact. We exist because of it. Byproducts of processes going in in our bodies. We can’t see it. We assume the effect of said energy release is negligible to our surroundings simply because, since we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I find a new awakening going on, in this culture. In this society. A long, long time ago, during the time of the birthing religions (200 BC to, say, 1000 AD), the understanding exploded of a second, third, and perhaps even fourth sublayer above the Real. This is the stuff of the new old religions. It is the backbone. Now that religion is failing so many people of this time of “Scientific Certainty,” they’re turning to Science and Atheism. Which is cool. They do their thing. As long as they aren’t killing in the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s all gravy.

The New Reformation, I guess, comes. Or a Second Enlightenment. I’m only sorry I don’t get to know it fully.

So the magic I use in my writing comes from a deep place, a sub-tonal to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Gitas, and the Books of the Dead, and whatever else. It comes from a constructed place–a governing place similar to those I listed–where the reality is multi-faceted, science is currently too short-sighted to involve itself, and energy talks with the voice of long-dead preachers. The magic I use is energy, plain and pure, built up on the shoulder-plates of imaginative thinkers and socio-pariahs like Einstein and Twain and Jung who, in another century (or life), would be heralded as prophets or even gods.

My brand of fantasy magic comes from the coupling of intelligent thought and passionate realization, of fever dreams and deep stillness. My brand of magic is the extent of the human condition, of spirituality that exists for itself, of ripe power sieved through governing filters. And that’s just in the reality.

In my writing, it collects the results of What Ifs and runs tests until the pattern is undeniable in its repetition.

Sorry. Magic is a lot of things. For me, it must stem from reality. It must stem from science and its branches are religion. Its fruits are you and I, the readers and writers, and it’s more than simply an axe-like tool. It’s a whole undiscovered place, like a continent with slightly different rules. It’s a way of breathing. It’s a way of bleeding. It’s a way of interaction.

It’s so. Fucking. Sexy.

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Real Life, Spun Fantasy.

My fiancee is an incredible person. She’s dynamic, dangerous, badass. She’s powerful. Sometimes scary.

I’ve never traveled the world. Never saw the towers of London or Pisa or India. Never drank the natives’ water. She has. Seven years of it, and before, a life of complex not-quite-reality. Hers is a story that would put Peter Pan to shame, that would decimate any horror movie you’ve ever watched, and threaten to tear the very seams of your understanding of the world.

Out of respect for her, I won’t divulge details. Out of respect for her, I put my work under Fantasy, because otherwise people would heckle, hate, and disbelieve.

I write fantasy because it isn’t. Turn on the TV, watch the presidential race, and look me in the eye and tell me people don’t believe in magic. Follow the brilliance of a disassociative personality that has constructed worlds with autistic-like dedication to detail. Follow any scientific discourse to its roots–any single one–and you’ll find the breath of the unknown. Study psychology to any degree: everyone has elaborate, constructed realities that are wholly different from each other.

We traverse worlds entirely our own, in this bubble of the senses, sharing with others only in limited quantities: sights, smells, sounds, tastes. But the things that come from behind the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, inner ear are entirely our own.

From a psychological standpoint, her story is definable. Anyone dedicated to the debunk will find precedent elsewhere, play it up to her elaborate ability to follow non-verbal communication, spatially understand emotions in a way most haven’t honed, understand nuances in tone, pitch, word choice. From a psychological standpoint, my fiancee is a body-reader. From the standpoint of almost anyone meeting her, she’s a mind-reader.

She dreams of apartments before we visit them, drawing layouts and dimensions that match perfectly. She follows unseen things. She’s a walking Tarot deck. She’s the most spiritual person I’ve ever met. She is, sometimes, a conduit to God. Other cultures were absorbed by her: when she walked around in India, people would stop and thank her for helping them. She had followers without even speaking a word.

She puts fortune-tellers to shame. She sees ghosts but does not speak to them, becaues they aren’t welcome. She grounds and calms and heals from across thousands of miles. She knows when a friend is pregnant and waits for her call. She understands people on a subliminal level.

From a scientific standpoint, she’s just lucky. She feels storms as headaches, is incredibly sensitive to food, vibrations, electricity–she’s developed, created, endorsed, reinforced a complex, complicated reality through false positives that retroactively verify her notions.

She grew up in a family of salt-of-the-earth republicans: father middle management in UPS, mother a stay-at-home, both Catholic. She had two older brothers that saw the same things she did, but never spoke about it. She lived a story any person would label as urban fantasy. Anyone.

I’ve had experiences in my life. I know, without question, everyone has. Everyone. She is my inspiration. She is my verification.

She is a normal person, working a normal job, in the armpit of the United States. She does all the things other people do. She’s quiet about what she’s seen. Respectful, even, because nobody in this culture shares her religion, her spirituality.

If Jesus returned to this earth, walked into your hometown, would you celebrate him? Or would you do the same thing the Romans did two thousand years ago and martyr him a heretic, a blasphemer, a liar? The whole world knows this answer. We’d kill him, either the masses or the vigilante Christians. I’m not saying she’s Jesus, or even close. She’s prophetic, at times, and she spent a lot of time hating America–even though she’s born and bred–because of how they ostracized her. Why?

Fear, perhaps. Her life has been one long struggle; sometimes blissful, sometimes agonizing. She’s a violently passionate, incredible person. She’s met psychics and knows who truly understands and who’s playing. She touches a person, true to Stephen King’s Dead Zone, and sometimes sees their past, or their future.

She’s sometimes wrong. She’s human. She usually isn’t. I feel blessed to share her life. I feel blessed to have such a fountain of inspiration, of truth, and depth of character.

Forgive me if my books don’t fit, or if their themes are too controversial, for their cores don’t come out of another book. I’ll be returning to the unique reality, from time to time, my fiancee has. It’s too big, too fulfilling, too credible to ignore. I spent a lot of time considering whether I wanted to write this entry. I debated for a long time whether I should take ownership of the elements in my books, and I realized that if I am to respect myself, I must declare that, at least at the core, nothing I write is fantasy.

It is dreamed, it is lived, it is experienced; not in some belief system of a faraway God, but as a way of life, as a way of interacting, daily, with the world around her. In the world around me. In the world around you.

Hope I didn’t scare anyone off…

~x

 

100k Words, and Why Fantasy Bites

If you don’t write HP fanfic or sexy vampires sucking blood and kicking tail, chances are you’re struggling to get published in the fantasy genre.

I’m one of those writers that doesn’t write to be published. I mean, I do. Obviously. But, like Stephen King says (in his prologue to the Dark Tower, heh), all writers fall into one of two groups: those who write to disperse information and those who write to gather. I’m one who gathers my information before trying to get it published.

That’s probably why I’m not published. I could easily write the latest vampire/werewolf romantic sexfest. I don’t care to. It’s been done. As with Tolkien’s publication of LOTR came a handful of successful mimics (Terry Brooks, for one), HP/Twilight is bringing about a handful of successful mimics (and about a thousand and one unsuccessful mimics, of course). But that genre’s saturated.

And it’s boring.

I’ve written my Dresden Files-esque Urban Fantasy (to no avail). In fact, I’ve written two books in the series before I petered out sending the stuff out and trying to get it rewritten/fixed up.

I’ve written my Lovecraft-esque fiction (definitely to no avail). Form letters all the way, if I got a reply at all, and THAT work is about two years earlier than my Urban Fantasy.

Now, I’m 100k words up on a story that I find most accessible to the general audience. Fiancee and brother both believe it’s a YA novel, albeit a little graphic at times. It’s my take on the HP craze: 13 year old boy goes to summer camp at a school of magic. He has issues. Hilarity ensues.

Yet I don’t believe I’m looking at this writing thing correctly. It’s not the genre that isn’t getting me published. It’s not the content within that genre. I think it’s the complication of the writing. David and His Shade is a relatively simple text: no florid prose, no overly complicated symbolism/metaphors, no gratuitous dream sequences that warp or mutate the story (they’re more punctuation marks to the story instead of their own stories…).

I think it’s still too complicated. My fiancee was eyeballs deep in world religions when she returned from India and Korea. She had lived the magic, and knew the magic, and in turn taught me about it. Chi, chakras, totems, Astral Projections, OBE, all that was commonplace in her study, in her life. It permeates my writing. In fact, instead of the stylized British magic incorporated in the HP universe, my writing uses complex systems that are already in place: Christian magic, Pagan magic, Hindu magic, Earth magic, Faeries and elves and demons and vetala and angels and Genius loci, and a thousand things in-between. Werewolves, and vampires, too.

I wonder if that’s a turnoff for anyone in the publishing industry: specific embracing of all religions, and positing character viewpoints that disagree with major religions (such as an anti-Christian mentality in a teacher, for instance).

It’s a touchy subject, but I don’t feel like anything, in any genre, should be censored for the sake of political correctness.

If anyone knows the overall viewpoint of the Fantasy publishing industry on this whole thing, I’d love to know.

I’m (at most) 20k off from finishing this beast. I have a lot to cut. Next chapter is the climax. I’ll be finished with a rough draft by Sunday.

Can’t wait to start getting more rejection letters. ~x