One of my favourite and most enjoyed things when growing up was reading fantasy stories. I’m forever thankful to my mom who brought me those books and helped me fall in love with reading – and reading is still following my life to this day, helping me cope with hardships, as well as is a great source of inspiration and knowledge.
When I visit my parents I still occasionally check on my old bookcase, looking through the titles of my old collection. Some were realistic fiction books, some were fun “encyclopaedic” (such as one about computers). Others were fantasy – as soon as Lithuanian translations for the Lord of the Rings series, as well as Harry Potter, showed up – my mom bought and gifted them to me. Few other stories come to mind as well, such as Nik Perumov’s “Elven blade” and Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon”.
Every time I received one of these books, I would literally read through them in one sitting, late into the night.
Afterwards, there was a hiatus from reading fantasy. It was partially because of the requirements to read at school and university, but soon after, when I was done with my education, I did indeed return to reading for pleasure again.
At the time came the Wither series, and of course, the Game of Thrones (still waiting for the last books, choosing not to watch the tv series). Witcher, by far, was my favourite, and segued into gaming as well – while I was too young to enjoy the first iteration of the game, the second was pretty good, while the third game – a true masterpiece. What made it different and so much more enjoyable for me was that the first few did not follow the books as much, while the third simply nailed the continuation of the story.
And this is by far what I appreciate the most in fantasy – the wonderful creative and magical stories, and the way those stories makes me feel – inspire me, make me sad and caring, make me hopeful, courageous, heroic etc. As an example, a quote that has been sitting on my facebook cover picture for a few years now:
“We were a little worried, however, that we were back to travelling in a random direction and again had no clearly specified target. But how did the vampire Regis put it – “it is better to go forward without a goal, than to have a goal and stay in one place, and it is certainly better than to stay in one place without a goal.” ~ Andrzej Sapkowski, Witcher series
Although most of the fantasy I enjoyed was medieval (castles and farmlands, swords and shields etc.) high fantasy (lots of magical beings / spells), there are other stories that “touched” me as well. Such as the extremely emotional story in Life is Strange (game) or the TV series I come back to rewatch occasionally, the Magicians. Honourable mention goes to the Longest Journey, a game I somehow managed to beat despite obvious gaps in English (I was around 12 and the game had a lot of text).
While I read, watched or played through many of the stories, I wanted to create them as well. So when a friend offered to run a Dungeons & Dragons game, I jumped on the opportunity and been playing and sometimes running games since early 2015. I’ve written a short intro on what D&D is here, as well as how to try it out (in Lithuanian). The tl;dr of it is that, prior to the pandemic, we would meet up and create stories together, be it our characters and their motivations or how we change the fantastical worlds around us; we would also fight and solve problems, compromise, fight each other etc.
While I barely ever documented my own games, I wrote up several character backgrounds; one is not actual D&D, about my doctor Kas (Who:)) character (in Lithuanian), other my arcane trickster, one I was sad to part with when the campaign ended.
I’m uncertain why, but just sitting down and dreaming of stories and writing them down was therapeutic for me. I didn’t share them much, just posted them here, on this “blog”. These are, from shortest to longest, the Cell , the Warrior and the Cold. The Cold is by far the longest, as I wrote that one daily for a month, short paragraph each day.
Although I never finished these stories, not the full story ark at least, I am super proud of them. I use both the games, reading and playing D&D as a way to balance my life – while proffesionally I help people with their dreams and projects – something that’s grounded in real life, fantasy just pulls me away for a bit, so that when I return back to work, I feel more creative, more energetic and simply happier.
I know fantasy is not for everyone, neither am I claiming it should be, but I hope each and every one of us finds something to stir the creativity and the childish joy most of us adults lost many years ago due to stress and work related issues. And should someone ever claim that doing something you love, however nerdy it is, is a waste of time, don’t listen to them and find your own path – I nearly lost myself recently this way.
I’ll leave you with a video of one of my favorite people in the world, a true and genuine person, Wil Wheaton, giving a short speech about being a nerd. Enjoy.