One of the fun parts about being a fantasy writer is that I can come up with all sorts of storylines and, no matter how crazy they seem to be on the surface, with enough creativity and thought put into them, they can turn into reality. In some very extreme cases, the reality that is created on paper can even turn out to seem more substantial than the world that exists around me as I write. I mourn the loss of characters as much as I would the loss of my real friends, and I feel their pain even when I am the instrument that causes them such pain.
In a sense, because of all that, the writer becomes a god. To the people I have created, to the world that I have made for them, my rule and my will reigns supreme. I am the all-mighty; I am the all-father. I am Odin, I am Zeus, I am Cheyenne.
It’s a nice feeling, some days. When my subjects are behaving as I would like them to, I am pleased. But on other days, they seem to thwart me at every turn of the page, and it is a struggle to make my far-reaching plans come to fruition. After all, if my heroes refuse to do as I tell them, how can I send them on a quest to discover the Holy Item of Awesomeness?
On the opposite side of the coin, I have also created opposition to my heroes. When they behave as I instruct, they are not as interesting. However, when they begin to demonstrate free will of their own, they can come up with some pretty catastrophic results… almost enough to kill off my people entirely if I let them. This poses a unique problem all on its own.
Now, I understand that I am not a god. I realize that this corollary may offend some of you, but I refuse to apologize. It is the closest example to the truth that I can offer.
As I mentioned, being a god can be a lot of fun. I can create whatever world I want, with whatever challenges I want, and have my heroes be as damaged as I want. But when I take a step back and see what I have done, am I pleased with what I see?
Sometimes, I am very pleased. Other times, I look more closely. I see the monsters I have created, and I realize that just as my heroes are a part of me, these monsters are as well. I look at the monsters, at the demons I place in my world, and I cannot help but to feel every bit as much pride in my demons as I do in my heroes.
Why would I feel this way? Is there something wrong with me? How could I take pride in something as loathsome as these vile creatures?
So I sit back and I look more. I look closer. I examine what these demons truly are, and what they represent- not only to my characters as a hindrance and a threat to their survival, but what they mean to me as a human being. Never mind being a god… am I still a human?
Before you start reacting, please understand that what you have seen of my inner demons is nothing. I repeat: NOTHING.
As I started to examine these portions of me, as I started to understand what I had hidden inside for all this time, I started to understand myself.
Sure, I have demons. Everyone does. However, not many people confront their demons. Even fewer embrace them. This doesn’t make those of us who have anything extraordinary, it just makes us self-aware. After all, isn’t that the goal of humanity is to become self-aware?
Many philosophers have said that one must understand one’s self before one can understand another. Perhaps this self-evaluation has created in me a deeper understanding of humankind, an understanding that I can bring to the page.
But may all of the gods help us if my characters start to develop inner demons of their own. I have no idea how to handle that.