Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It's time for another blog chain. This time Sandra over at Dual Citizenship in SpecFic and Mundania provided the question, and what a deep one it is.

What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday dreams?

This feels like the type of questions that one might find on their final examination and have to fill several blue books trying to answer it, or perhaps it would be more of a ten page term paper type of question. What I'm saying is that it is a great question, but it is also a big question (made even bigger by it actually being four questions) and I don't know if I can fully wrap my head around it within a blog entry.

Luckily, I have had some time to ponder this question while the rest of the blog chain gave their own answers, and I think I've come up with a response that will not require footnotes or hunting down a MLA Formatting and Style guide.

It's does however have a three parts:

1. Wishing to write what I like to read.

I was reading a review the other day of the a book called The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller and found this excerpt:

C.S. Lewis embarked on "The Chronicles of Narnia" after observing to his friend and fellow Oxford don J.R.R. Tolkien that "there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try to write some ourselves."

Now obviously what is funny about this is that both of those men did go on to write stories, and found much success doing so. However, what I am more interested in here is the idea of not finding enough stories to their taste, and feeling they must resort to writing such stories themselves.

I think there is a bit of this in my own writing. When I read a book with an especially weak heroine, it's all I can do to stop myself from scribbling into the margins a speech where she tells them all where to stick it. Or when I was reading a lot of chick lit, I grew so tired of the women constantly drooling over Gucci bags and Manolo Blahnik shoes, as if that was what every women aspired too, when I knew that my own friends and myself had no interest in such things as long as Target keeps producing decent knockoffs, that I was ready to throw the books at the wall.

Which brings me to point two:

2. Wishing to write a reflection of my own life and experiences.

In 1990 I was eleven years old. I wanted what everyone in the city I lived in wanted: for the Buffalo Bills to win the Super Bowl. In the last minutes of the game the score was Buffalo Bills: 19, New York Giants: 20. The only hope was a final second field goal attempt. It went wide right and the Bills lost. In the following three years they went on to lose three more consecutive Super Bowls.

In writing I have the power to change the story. I can make that damn ball go straight through the post for a glorious last minute win - instead of a heartbreaking loss. Except, I wouldn't. I have no interest in writing it that way, because that's not the truth that I know, and for me writing is a way of expressing my view of the world. And that view is often that of the underdog, who knows what it feels like to lose.

On the other hand, sometimes my view isn't all missed field goals, and that's where number three comes in.

3. Wishing to experience through writing being someone bolder, braver, and brighter than myself.

Maybe I've mentioned this in the past, but I like to sleep with a night light. I do not like to take the dog out after dark. And sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I have to first check behind the shower curtain to make sure that a killer isn't hiding there, waiting to kill me.

The character I am currently writing is not like this at all though. She's Tough. Yep, Tough with a capital T. She'll say something sassy in the face of danger and walk into a dark and scary room without a second thought.

For me, these three points are where wishing and writing intersect.

Wish you could read more about this fascinating subject? Wish granted. Head over to Archetype Writing for her take on this question. Or if you want to read what came directly before me, Mary Lindsey brings Freud into this fascinating topic.


  1. While you're granting wishes, I have a few more I'd like to propose...

    Great post, Kate! I think you have three interesting points of wish fulfillment in writing.

    And I'm with you, if I get spooked, my mind automatically jumps to the most outrages and frightful things. Stephen King would be put to shame...

  2. Great post! I too want to write the stories I want to read, and I also have no interest in designer label shoes and purses.

    And no, I didn't expect people to footnote their posts when I came up with this topic!

  3. I know I've mentioned this before, but we have so much in common! (ahem, the nightlights, checking the tub...I also look out my window every time I hear a car go by on my road when I'm home alone at night :D)

    Great post!

  4. So I guess hanging out with me in dark old abandoned hospitals hoping for ghosts to appear is out?

    Truth be told, when I was single (early twenties), I slept with a loaded gun in a compartment in my headboard.

    I understand writing characters that have traits you wish you had yourself.

    :) Terri

  5. I always love your posts, Kate. They're so interesting and fun.

    And I do all my shopping at Kohls. :-D

  6. Wow, it's like you're in school. So smart and thoughtful. People ask me why or what or how I write...and I can barely formulate an answer that doesn't contain at least 3 ums. LOL

    I agree on the chick lit thing. It's not mine, either...

    I have a glass door on my shower now. :D

  7. Sandra- thank you for not deducting points for my lack of footnotes:)

    Terri- Um, yeah, that's a definite no on the ghost watching.

    Archy- I totally loves Kohls too! They have the greatest deals all the time!

  8. Blue books. *shudder*

    I think you win for most organized post.

    Great job, Kate!

  9. Kate! Love the last one. I totally check behind the shower curtain too. But closets I won't do. I make my 10 yo son check those...great post!