Hope and purpose. They’re the driving force behind my fantasy fiction, even if they aren’t explicitly stated. I already know how hope can endure despite the odds, and when it’s paired with purpose it becomes a force.
Purpose can be as big as saving a nation or as small as a character discovering their place in the world. My heroines seldom find their purpose alone, even if they start out that way. Often, others believe in her long before she believes in herself.
Before purpose, though, there’s hope, even if it’s buried as a flickering candle of longing. I could call it crazy hope, a hope so far outside the seeming realm of possibility that there’s no reason to hold onto it.
Yet, there it is.
It’s like Riparia’s vision of a better world she doesn’t believe herself worthy of pursuing. It’s like Zephtasha’s desire to help others, to create, yet most deem her repugnant. It’s like Kasaria’s dreams of family and love passing before eyes she can’t control. It’s like Talma’s battle between longing and the imposed guilt that rules her.
Against all the odds they hold onto their hope until they find their purpose and, yes, that comes from me, even if it looks different than mine.
I held onto hope for more years, more decades than would seem reasonable. Even now, each story I work on reminds me that my hope, like my heroine’s, lives.
Not so long ago, after a year of lockdown, losing both my cats, enduring a cancer scare, and having my lung disease flare-up, I had a counselor stare at me (virtually, of course) in disbelief. How was it that I remained hopeful, especially given all that’d come before in my life?
*Yes, it begs the question: who’s counseling who?
It was a puzzling question, and one I struggled to explain. After all, at my advanced age, hasn’t the time for my happy ending passed me by?
I’m not a believer in fate. Countless times, if I’d made better decisions, I might have endured less of the suffering that came my way. Too, if I don’t own my path that becomes the most dangerous path of all.
Still, part of why I write is to try to answer that question for me and, maybe, others. After all, I shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Yet, here I am despite my father’s efforts to accidentally abort me.
It doesn’t take much imagination to visualize my childhood. The thing is, though, that childhood also gave birth to the hope my imagination created. Each Thanksgiving I’d urge Dorothy to remain in OZ with the found family that fought so hard for her despite their own flaws. Each Christmas I’d ask Santa for a family that wanted me, then turn to imagining it, sometimes while gazing out the window in classrooms.
Over the decades, that became Ontyre.
The child who should have been consumed by perpetual despair instead adopted a crazy hope. Oh, I can suffer from severe depression, yet, in the worst depths of those moments there’s a light within.
A decade ago, while recovering from the illness that ravaged my lungs, my hope pointed to writing and told me it was what I’d been waiting for.
Maybe, all along, that was the path I was supposed to be on, but I was too blind too see it, too wrapped in self-pity. It doesn’t matter now. In the end, it’s enough. In a strange way, it makes all the bad that came before a tool for helping others in the present using the power of story.
After all, I know what it is to be marginalized.
Somehow, even in this eleventh hour, I’m going to find a way to share hope in fiction (there are examples on this WP site). It might be a crazy hope, but it’s burning inside.