Wednesday, October 5, 2022

For October's Insecure Writer's Support Group post I identify the best characteristic of my favorite genre.

October 2022 is upon us. It's usually just "another month" for me, as I'm not really into scary things or decorating for Halloween. But this October feels a bit more special, because I'm really enjoying the fantastic entertainment that I get via streaming. It honestly feels like I'm living in a candy store, and I get to watch such delights as Hellraiser (Hulu), Hocus Pocus 2 (Disney+), the Rings of Power (Amazon), Andor (Disney +), Interview with the Vampire (AMC), The School for Good and Evil (Netflix), and The Cabinet of Curiosities (Netflix). And being the first Wednesday of October, it also means that I get to post once again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you are a first-timer to my blog (unlikely but it could happen), then allow me to explain what the IWSG is.

First off, it was created by Alex Cavanaugh. You can find his website HERE. Alex has been blogging and for a long time, which makes me realize that I've been blogging for a long time. That's just really weird. Anyway, here is more about the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and why you should join.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. 

The Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 5th posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

Every month, the IWSG announces a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

October 5th question - What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

The category in which I write and read the most is speculative fiction. So it is my favorite. Speculative fiction paints with a broad brush, encompassing genres with elements that do not exist in reality, recorded history, nature, or the present universe. Works of speculative fiction cover various themes in the context of the supernatural, futurism, comic books, magic, and many other imaginative realms. My favorite genres under the speculative fiction umbrella are fantasy and then science fiction.

I think the best characteristic of fantasy and science fiction is that it lets me be somebody else. When I read a book, I kind of become the main character, no matter if it is told in third person, second, or first. This is the magic that a book of speculative fiction can do. It takes me out of the banality of living in this world of ours where everything seems expensive and where interacting with others can oftentimes be traumatic and abusive and disappointing. It repackages us into another skin where we learn about things we never knew and see wonders that we would otherwise never see. It is a great thing to experience love and loss, heartbreak and hardship, all from the safety of one's chair. Or if one's living conditions are not so great, to have those walls melt away and to find oneself somewhere else for a while.

It's not easy to tell you why escapism is important, because the very idea of it is so complex. I just know that escapism is important for many people. Maybe not so much for the richest and most beautiful among us who obviously crave attention and receive more than they can use. However, few of us fit into that particular box. Speculative fiction in all of its forms is a human creation with the sole purpose of making our lives more tolerable. And it works, and makes a functioning society that more likely. What would our society be if we had no stories to listen to from books to television to movies? Especially for older folks who live alone or for folks who know of no one that wants to spend time around them, the hours and days would be very long indeed. And if you're someone that wants to tell me that loneliness is not an epidemic in the world, don't bother. I've seen how many older folks end up in America firsthand. Oftentimes, adults can't stand being around them unless they can score free stuff. If you have nothing to give, benign neglect is one of the better things for which you can hope.

Humans are very good at gaslighting others with phrases like "there's someone for everyone" and "violence solves nothing" and "honesty is the best policy" and "justice is blind" and "all men are created equal" and "all lives matter" when we see everyday things contrary to these sayings that cause people to flourish and be rewarded with riches. If anything, the power of speculative fiction allows us to see ways in which we can account for these traumas and horrors, and it empowers us with solutions to deal with the pain of living. Just look at the works of George R.R. Martin. There's a reason why in Game of Thrones Missandei's last words were, "Dracarys" before Queen Cersei had her head removed from her shoulders. The power of speculative fiction is here to remind us that we are not powerless before the things that hurt us and make our lives miserable. The imagination is such a marvelous coping tool for what ails us. I just wish that it wasn't so needed.


  1. Making our lives more tolerable. Well said. I think it also helps us process real life better.
    Not sure abut Andor yet but it's just begun...

  2. Any fiction lets you be somebody else.

    1. @Pat: It doesn't work that way for me. For example, when I read historical fiction, I don't feel like I'm someone else. And then there are works of fiction which simply didn't go through what it takes to be facts. So, they have to be branded as "fiction," because it was too much work to prove everything. I also don't get the same displacement from reading those things. And of course, there is biographical fiction. One I can think of was Wolf Hall, and I didn't feel like I was somebody else while reading about Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII's court.

  3. You summed it up perfectly with, "It repackages us into another skin where we learn about things we never knew and see wonders that we would otherwise never see." It's why I love to read speculative fiction as well. I'll read other genres, but none take me out of my life as far (or far enough) as some great science fiction or fantasy.

  4. It's good to get out of our reality for a while.