Sometimes a Fantasy

Chatting with yesterday’s featured author Olivia Boler brought back a very vivid memory of graduate school.

Olivia told me, “I have an MA from the UC Davis Creative Writing Program, and we were pretty much told by our professors that genre fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy, isn’t real literature.”

I suddenly remembered the dejected young woman sitting in my fiction class. This student had written a fun, chick lit-type book where her main character, as it turned out, was from another planet. Our professor totally didn’t get it – and was pretty vocal about it too. And it wasn’t like all everyone was writing was literary fiction. I had started writing a thriller. Another, a mystery. We were all doing our thing, which seemed to be accepted as credible, so why was the alien thing so… well, alien?

It was then that the student muttered under her breath something about fantasy fiction being ostracized by academia, and after only attending one or two classes, she didn’t return.

It wasn’t long afterwards that Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight became a crazy phenomenon. A book about vampires. And werewolves.

The moral of the story? Stick to your guns, people, and fight for your book. This business is soooo subjective and critical. And school is only the beginning. But also, and perhaps more importantly, listen to criticism. Had that student stayed, she might have learned a few things and made her book better and — who knows? — maybe even our professor a convert.

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4 thoughts on “Sometimes a Fantasy

  1. Thank you for this post, Dina. I completely agree. I forgot to mention that Harry Potter opened doors to fantasy/sci-fi fiction’s acceptance by the mainstream and academia as well. Write what you love, always.

  2. I had the same type of experience! College creative writing classes were the reason I spent the first 15 years of my career doing graphics instead of writing. I never fit in. Nothing I wrote was good enough because none of it was based on “reality” as they saw it. Nothing I said was a “comment on society”. According to them, anyway. I say what’s wrong with good old-fashioned entertainment? Now I’m older and I can look them in the eye and say “bite me”. ;-)

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