Sights to Inspire

After reading an article on fantasy stories last week that annoyed me, though I agreed with some of the points made (go here if you’re curious), I was going to write a post about that experience. But rather than vent my spleen, I decided to take a more positive tangent.

The other day while heading to a four-year-old’s birthday party (you may not believe how often I get invited to those), I caught a faint shimmer in the sky off to the west. A rainbow on a sunny winter afternoon. I had never seen one on a rainless day. But there it was. And there it remained, uncaptured by my phone’s camera, since I was driving at the time. But it reminded me of a rainbow I saw last month. This was yet another first for me: I saw almost the whole rainbow from west to east. A cloud covered the top part of it. I could only capture part of both sides (sorry that one is so faint):

020    017

But I was at the right place at the right time to see both sides. Oddly enough both of my rainbow experiences occurred while I was in my car. At least for one instance—a rainy day last December—I had time to get out of my car twice to photograph.

Something as serendipitous as seeing a rainbow reminds me of what I love about fairy tales and other fantasy stories. Some of these aspects are what inspire me to write fantasy stories. (See, here’s that tangent I mentioned earlier.)

Dragon

You can’t read this blog for too long without knowing that I love Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings or the fact that my father used to read a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me at bedtime. So I grew up feeling comforted by these familiar stories that took me to places where giants roamed and wily dragons hunted. They fueled my desire to see adventures unfurl around every corner. And when I eventually grew into a nerdy kid who was bullied by other kids at school, the desire to escape into a magical realm like Bastian Balthazar Bux does in The Neverending Story escalated.

Lord of the Rings    27712

Every book I read became my own private movie theater of the imagination and fueled my desire to write the kinds of stories into which kids could escape. The tales based on the mythology of myriad cultures (Welsh, Greek/Roman, African, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavian) helped fuel the fire.

As a writer, I can only do my best to impart my vision as vividly as possible in order to come across in high definition on the screen of a reader’s imagination. That’s why I’m grateful for the flashes of inspiration that occasionally come my way. They’re like those glimpses I had of the rainbow the other day, which made a commonplace journey extraordinary. When I’m inspired, every sense is heightened, every moment fraught with possibility. (I’ll bet you’re thinking of Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” right about now.)

Judy Garland

Because of a pressing curriculum project recently and the holidays, I haven’t written much in the way of fiction in the last few weeks. But I hope to return to my story and the wonder to be had in a magical place somewhere over the rainbow.

What inspired you recently?

Wolf-fantasy-31454823-1280-800

This wolf howls because he’s not one of the three wolves on a T-shirt sold by Amazon.

Book cover from Goodreads. Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz from vickielester.com. Dragon image from dragonwallpapers10. Wolf image from fanpop.

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58 thoughts on “Sights to Inspire

  1. Yeah, article’s bit of a duffer. Like nothing has been written since 1900’s on either side of the pond! Anyway, I’m off to slaughter a goat and get on with my latest ‘fantasy’ novel.

  2. We really are molded by our experiences and authors sometimes get an extra dose. Mostly because we try to use our experiences to create something new out of thin air. Saw the title of the other post and wasn’t sure I should peek down that rabbit hole. I will say that this country does seem very interested in tearing down the curtain and revealing the flaws behind the magic. People hunt for spoilers, complain about issues that aren’t there, and seem to take a more business/critic approach to fiction. There’s no attempt to escape, so you have fewer people wanting to lead the way into a fantasy world. Guess I can see the point even without reading the article. Since I’m starting a short project (hopefully) today, I don’t really want to step into anger. Especially since I need to put a little humor in this one. 😀

    • It’s probably best you avoid going down that rabbit hole, since with its biases and half information, it will probably make you as mad as it made me. Though yes I agree that we’re dwelt too long in the tearing down the curtain mode. That’s probably why movies like the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Star Wars are so refreshing to contemplate. They showcase an adventure without an apology or a “don’t look at the man behind the curtain.” I still want to escape into a fantasy world and look for every opportunity to do so.

      • Star Wars is an interesting example since they kept a lot hidden until release. There were even several red herrings tossed out to keep people guessing. I found that a lot more refreshing compared to so many trailers that reveal everything. I’m fine with pieces of information and minor spoilers to perk my interest, but there’s a limit. For example, I had no tension watching Avengers 2 because Disney had released the next couple of years of Marvel movies and people were uncovering contract information. The death became an easy process of elimination since people were flinging the info around social media. Sometimes I’ll even see headlines with the spoiler.

      • I agree. I thought they showed way too much in the latest Batman v Superman trailer. Maybe it was the glimpse of Doomsday (looked like unfinished CG) or how annoyed I felt watching Jesse Eisenberg hamming it up as Lex Luthor. I didn’t even need to see Wonder Woman, though I’m glad she’ll make an appearance in the movie. It’s like they’re telling us right away how the conflict will resolve. I appreciated Disney’s restraint in keeping the plot of Star Wars under wraps.

      • This might turn into a rant because I honestly think people are too hard on the DC movies. It’s like many people want to hate them while praise Marvel’s ‘Bestie War’. 😛

        I actually prefered the BvS trailer over Civil War. The reason is because BvS is able to show us everything. People outside of comics know both characters a lot more than most of the Civil War cast. Cyborg and Aquaman are still in hiding though. As far as Eisenberg go, I like his take on Lex Luthor Jr. Any attempt to be Gene Hackman’s version would be met with hate, so he had to find his own route. It’s also the suave businessman side instead of the criminal mastermind that the movies typically show. Doomsday is simply tough to do in general, but I’ve seen much worse. The truth is that we don’t know how the conflict will resolve. Just that they unite against Doomsday, but all knew Bats and Supes would unite against a bad guy at some point so I don’t think they lost anything by showing that. For all we know, and there is a hint, Doomsday isn’t the final bad guy of the movie.

      • I’m not trying to be hard on DC or the movie–just expressing my preference for it and trailers. If two characters are in conflict, I don’t want to see that a third person and a villain will arrive and draw the attention of the two in conflict. That always leads me to believe that the conflict will end or be postponed because the two will team up somehow with the third hero to fight a bigger evil.

        I grew up reading DC comic books more than Marvel comic books. I’ve seen just about all of the DC animated series. I looked forward to seeing more DC movies arrive on the screen, especially since I loved Nolan’s Batman trilogy. But no, I’m not drawn by that trailer or Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. I keep thinking of seeing his portrayal as a Heath Ledger-as-Joker knockoff, rather than Gene Hackman as Luthor. Again, that’s my opinion. When I saw the first trailer, I couldn’t wait to see the movie. With this trailer, I have less desire to see it. Again, my opinion. I like to be surprised when I go to a movie. I don’t have to see all of the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted. I’ve seen the photo of the actor playing Aquaman. I was excited just seeing the photo. I don’t have to know what role Aquaman will play in resolving the conflict.

      • Normally I agree with that first part, but I remember a lot of people saying that it’ll be a bad guy who comes in to unite them since the movie was announced. A problem with social media is that people are spewing their ideas into the ether and it can look like there’s no surprise in there. So a company can either throw a red herring around (like Finn) or just show it to take their lumps early. I guess I just don’t see a problem because we all saw it coming even without the news of a Justice League movie. It was basically a confirmation along with showing Wonder Woman who has been getting blasted left and right on forums. The trailer we saw could very be a response to the vitriol that has been flung around. I remember hearing that the guy who played Falcon in Cap 2 even took a shot at the Man of Steel movie. DC is backed into a corner with this and revealing things might be the best gamble. This is from a business standpoint too. I heard shouts of Doomsday, Luthor Jr. united heroes, and everything for months before that trailer. So I guess they didn’t see a point in hiding what everyone claimed to already know.

        I haven’t read a lot of Superman, but I do remember reading some with Lex Luthor Jr. He was friendlier and more animated than his father. I’m giving him a chance mostly because of how Joker tends to turn out. Then again, I didn’t really like 2 & 3 of Nolan’s trilogy outside of Joker. Just had too many holes for me.

      • I don’t envy a movie studio in this day of social media and people leaking trailers and discussing them to the nth degree.

        I hadn’t heard the rumors about villain uniting the heroes. The trailer helped me to that conclusion. I avoided a lot of the discussion until it became unavoidable since all of my favorite YouTubers discussed the trailers.

        I actually like Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa as Aquaman. I want to see them onscreen. Just not in another trailer. And for the record, I’m tired of the Civil War trailers.

      • It was only a rumor because it was easy to predict. A lot of people will take even the title of a movie and announce that they know what will happen. Here you have two of the biggest superheroes who can carry their own series. It would never end with one defeating the other because there goes the loser’s movie franchise and a Justice League film. Once Lex was announced, it makes it clear that they’ll have another enemy. Honestly, I’m much more interested in seeing Wonder Woman. Aquaman is a close second because I think he deserves some respect. Justice Friends really hurt him. I’m guessing there’s more trailers to come out though. They have to release at least one new one since they still have months.

        The only reason I’m really going to Civil War is to see Spider-Man, but I’m iffy. I don’t see how he’ll fit in and they’re introducing Black Panther too. I’ve barely paid attention to it lately considering BvS, Suicide Squad, and Deadpool are more interesting to me. I’m really surprised that I haven’t seen any Deadpool commercials yet.

      • Suicide Squad and Deadpool look great all around. Both films seem tricky to pull off well. But with the casts at least they’re off to a good start.

        Aquaman desperately needed a new image. It’s sad that so many expectations ride on a movie (including my unreasonable ones). Case in point: I was gung ho about X-Men Apocalypse until I saw the last trailer and lost interest.

      • Think the key to them is the ‘R’ rating, which means you get a more authentic Deadpool and Joker. I’m really curious to see how Jared Leto does in the role. Creeps me out just with the voice.

        I’m on the fence about X-Men. I saw the trailer, but even before that I was worried. Tons of mutants, Psylocke introduced, Angel/Archangel shows up, Jean Grey will be important, and a big super mutant threatens everyone. Just reminds me too much of Last Stand. Also no Wolverine.

      • I also thought of Last Stand. 😦 I can’t blame Hugh Jackman for wanting to leave a role he’s played for so long.

        If anyone can pull this off, it’s Jared Leto. He seems eccentric in real life!

      • That’s a good article. Thanks for the link. I’m glad the director is excited to share this part of the DC Universe.
        Maybe he will evolve. I wonder how long this film will be.

      • I have a feeling it might be a 3 hour affair. They’re coming out of the gate swinging instead of the slow build like Marvel. Again, I think DC does have the advantage to do this since their characters have been iconic for longer.

      • I wouldn’t mind a three-hour movie. I know they bow to the pressure of the studio to cut a movie below that length of time. But if a film is good, I want the full three hours or more if necessary.

      • I’m thinking with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Doomsday, and Luthor all needing decent screen time, we’ll see a long one. You hear that there might be 67 characters in Avengers: Infinity War?

      • Honestly, I’m not looking forward to that two-part movie. I don’t have a huge amount of interest in Thanos or the infinity stones, though they have been featured in so many movies (and I loved Guardians of the Galaxy). But I’ll undoubtedly see at least one of them.

      • I loved the Infinity Gauntlet and all those stories back in the comics. Thanos was always a badass when used correctly. So I’m holding onto some hope. Just think it’ll bring a new level of ‘clogged’ to the superhero genre.

      • I didn’t read that story. Since you liked it, I hope the movies will reflect that level of quality. But yeah, that many characters seems a bit much. Unless they’re going for The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, both of which had a ton of characters. And Harry Potter too. So with two movies, hopefully these characters will be spread out. It wouldn’t surprise me if they elected to do three movies instead of two.

      • Oh, it won’t come anywhere close to the original. Thanos started it with the fully-powered Infinity Gauntlet and used it to erase half of all life in the universe. All this to make Death choose him as her consort. It had some majorly violent deaths for heroes who would later be revived.

  3. I love that even though you are crazy busy with a freelance deadline, you found time to share your inspiration with us. And everyone knows that inspiration shared is contagious. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. The nebulous but magnificent act of inspiration!
    I have recently bought Pullman’s Grimm’s Tales to read to my children. How’s that for serendipity!

    • Ha! Amazing, Andy! I heard Pullman’s Grimm’s is a good one! I think I have it on my wish list. Are they enjoying it?

      Your blog posts are usually very inspiring too. 🙂

  5. I read that same article and appreciate your restraint in response. I’ll do the same and just say thank you for an inspiring post. And may we all embrace the magic!

  6. Rainbows are such inspiring things. It’s one of the few upsides of living in perpetual rain that we do tend to see them quite often. I actually saw a double rainbow once – two separate ones in the sky at the same time. But like you I always seem to be driving when I see them, so no chance to chase down that pot of gold…

  7. Thanks for the link, Linda. The author made valid points using the specific books he selected to bolster his position.

    That’s what most of us do to substantiate our beliefs . . . find things to back them up and ignore anything that doesn’t. 😛

    • Ha! So true. I noticed that about the article: the books carefully chosen to bolster an opinion while ignoring many other books that would disagreed with the theory. Though why it was mentioned in the first place is beyond me. It didn’t serve a positive purpose. That’s why I love your posts. You see through all of that.

  8. I’ve only seen a full rainbow, once, a few years ago – and it took my breath away. We were on a less-traveled road in Iowa. Farm country. The sky was almost black on one side, rain chasing us, the sun shining on the other. I said “there HAS to be a rainbow” and then, there it was! It was impossible to capture it all, though we both tried. We had just been to Tom’s father’s hometown, one of those small town places with a town square and all. His grandmother’s name was Kate. As we tumbled out of the car to try to catch the rainbow, we simultaneously cried out “Kate’s rainbow”. I thank you for stirring that memory in me, and for taking “the more positive tangent”.
    I’m interested in the Pullman’s Grimm’s Andy mentions -but, first, I really do NEED to take down the Christmas tree.

    • You tell the best stories, Penny! That was the first time I’d seen so much of a rainbow. It stretched across the sky. I was never more glad to stop at a red light as I was that day. I had to go to the library, so the rainbow graciously waited for me to park so that I could take pictures of it. By the time I’d left the library, the rainbow had dissipated.

  9. I guess I never figured one country to have better storytellers than another. While it’s true England has wonderful settings in which to create fantasy stories, I imagine other countries do too. I don’t really read fantasy novels, but I would think a wonderful tale could be spun from any setting as long as the author’s got the words. 🙂

    Rainbows are always good for a little inspiration!

    • I agree with you. I didn’t see the point in comparing one country’s storytellers with another country’s. It was an exercise with a hidden agenda. 😦
      I’m always glad to see a rainbow appear, especially if I see one without rain in the forecast. 🙂

  10. Nice rainbow shots. 🙂 I’m glad you could grab them.

    Just at the moment, I’m inspired by my middle daughter’s ability to dig out a snow fort she can crawl into with less than six inches of snow to work with. It’s very impressive to watch her make something big out of next-to-nothing.

    • She seems very ingenious! Wish I could send you some of our snow. A kid I know also is usually very determined to build at least a snowman even when the snowfall is only an inch. 🙂

  11. I read fantasy novels as a child. I think they were written by British authors, who cares? 🙂
    I don’t typically read fantasy now, but I see what it did for my imagination.

    “As a writer, I can only do my best to impart my vision as vividly as possible in order to come across in high definition on the screen of a reader’s imagination. ” So true, and sometimes despite our best efforts, our writing isn’t the reader’s cup of tea or genre.

    Lately I’ve been inspired by my train rides. Your rainbow is beautiful. Last week, we had two in one day.

  12. My most recent inspiration was you writing about how your dad read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to you before bed. It reminded me of my dad, who told me stories about giants and flying carpets after he tucked me into bed at night. I loved fairy tales and imaginative stories when I was a kid. As an adult, I loved finding Magical Realism. And yet, most of what I write is realistic. Maybe I should think about throwing in a little magic.

    • Maybe you should, Nicki. I know what you mean about writing realistic fiction. As an adult, I turned to that when I grew tired of negative criticism concerning genre fiction during my undergraduate days. But almost twelve years ago, while talking with a friend, I realized that I love fantasy stories. She asked me why I wasn’t writing those. That was an epiphany

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