Well, one of them.
Lately I’ve been asking myself a question: why am I not writing a medieval fantasy story? Whenever I think of fantasy, Medieval fantasy is what I think of. Knights. Dragons. Elves. Goblins, wizards, magic rings, nobility and sacrifice and evil, adventures. Cliched as the genre has become, it, above all things, carries away my imagination. A medieval fantasy world is the world I long to live in. When I want to escape, when I want to lose myself in dreams of adventures and other places, that is the place I want to escape to. I am still looking for a perfect medieval fantasy story which can fully satisfy that itch deep down inside me. Setting aside all speculations on whether that itch is not really an itch for some deep spiritual thing rather than a certain sort of story, this is the kind of story that I most love and, deep down, most want to write.
But I always run into this problem, which is that whenever I start developing an idea that’s going to be a medieval fantasy, I always get carried away with making it unique and original. I come up with really interesting stories and worlds, but by the time they’ve reached the point that I’m happy with them, they’ve passed beyond the point where they are recognizable as that quintessential Medieval fantasy. I don’t want to write a cliched story, but at the same time, work too hard at excising the cliches, and the story is no longer what I set out to write. It’s pretty frustrating.
As I was thinking about it earlier today, something that C.S. Lewis said sprang to mind.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
So I’m thinking I would be better off if I simply try to tell the truth in a Medieval fantasy setting. Perhaps I should stop thinking about how to make my wizards unique and cool and think instead of what kind of truths I can tell about a wizard. If I treat the medieval fantasy world no differently than if I were writing a story in our own world–if I tell the truth about characters both startlingly familiar and decidedly strange, describe how beautiful the land is, bring up great questions like good literature always does, tell tales of heroism and nobility and evil, without stopping to think about how this is a world where dragons are daily occurrences and a giant could stomp on you around any corner, then maybe I will be able to write that quintessential fantasy that I’ve been looking for.
This particular quest is one which I’ve actually only just been awoken to. I get the feeling that it could be a quest lasting years, maybe even a lifetime; but if so, then it will be a worthy quest.