March 19, 2021

Social Issues in Fiction

I've always maintained that fiction holds a lot of truth. I usually find out things about myself, and the world around me, like subconscious observations. This morning, I was thinking about A Fairy's Quest and what message I may have left myself this time.

The obvious answer is about trauma. Traumatic experience is personal for me, and I wanted to incorporate it into my story. The more I learn about trauma, and our human response to it, the more I feel that it is misunderstood. As are most mental health disorders. And I get it. "Invisible" diseases like chronic pain, mental health, cancer (before hair loss), neurological disorders (without physical impairment or "props" like wheelchairs or canes) are exactly how I described—invisible. A person can look perfectly fine from the outside, but that is just the window dressing. Inside the house may be a completely different story. You cannot really understand what a person is going through unless you walk a day in their shoes. That is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

In this book, I wanted to explain, through my character Alina, a little bit about how I feel. And it was hard to describe because I had to live through it again. The darkness. The unknown. How to quantify the agony, but at the same time, offer hope. If you feel like something is "wrong" with you, then follow your instincts. Our bodies were built for survival, but we often ignore the messages. When you face a health crisis—physical, mental—it impacts your life. You look at things differently. You are faced with the reality of your own mortality. Seriously. It places you at a crossroads, and you have a choice to stay the course or choose a different path. Remember, the old road is probably the reason you had a health crisis in the first place.

The less obvious answer is also about choice. It's a reminder about feminism and what it actually means. Advocacy of woman's rights. I am 100% about equality. I've often written about human rights. But, somewhere, along the way, feminism became the quest to "have it all" which included perfectly managing a family and career; and anything less than that was unacceptable. Only a housewife. Just a stay-at-home-mom. "Married" to the career. Feminism—equality in general—is the ability to choose your own path without constrictions of traditionally defined gender roles. More single woman climb the corporate ladder. More Dads become the stay-at-home parent. It's a new world.

Alina comes from a very traditional family—she was even betrothed at birth—but she wants to start her own business before thinking about marriage. Getting established in your career, especially becoming financially solvent, before starting a family is a valid plan. And so is starting a business and never getting married. My intention was to offer support for your plan. Any combination of career and family is a valid choice. And sometimes under the pressure to "have it all" we lose sight of what's really important. Making the best choice for yourself.

Personally, I always wanted to get married and have kids. I may have gotten some grief over the years from my more feministic friends about my old-fashioned life plan. But, in my mind, true equality is the ability to choose. And that's freedom at its core. I can have a career. Get married. Have kids. I can pick two of the three. And I understand the importance of being able to support myself. I have a practical university degree. You don't need to sacrifice your autonomy or independence to be with someone. The right someone will want you to be the greatest version of yourself. Whatever that looks like.

A Fairy's Quest is available for pre-order with automatic delivery on April 6, 2021.

Do you think about the potential lessons hidden in fiction books? Have you ever learned something from fiction?

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