Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hey -- Did You See That Unicorn?

I've been making my way through the "Ally McBeal" DVD set lately. (Now, before you Ally-haters roll your eyes and click on something else, just bear with me, lol...).

It's gotten a bad rap, that show (too-skinny lead, quirky fantasy sequences, controversial storylines), but I love it. The characters (John Cage, especially - tee-hee) are odd and endearing, and the storylines always make me think. The series writer/creator, David E. Kelley, is a genius.

In yesterday's episode, Ally saw a unicorn (she has fantasies quite often) and it was noted that only "special" people see unicorns. Unicorns have quite a fascinating literary and religious history, by the way - link here.

And it got me thinking about writers. How, yes, I think we are "special" people. Not better than anyone else, just, unique. Because to be writers, we have to be brave enough to immerse ourselves in a fantasy world. To pretend. To go beyond what's real and explore the un-real.

We have to be able to see unicorns. Not literally, of course. But there are writers who have audible conversations with their characters, in order to flesh them out more. Writers who travel the ends of the earth to research settings in which to place fictional people. And, of course, writers who do write about things that don't exist: orcs, trolls, elves, vampires, werewolves.

In order to do that, to write outside the realms of what's real, writers have to be willing to look for unicorns. To tap into that creative part of ourselves that, for most people, vanishes with childhood. Santa Claus, fairies, invisible friends, unicorns. I think writers must maintain the spirit of a child, that eternal sense of whimsy and creativity.

And, like with Ally McBeal, the average outsider (the non-unicorn-seeing person) probably views the writer as an oddity. And so we are. But I embrace that uniqueness.

Why be like everyone else? I'd rather see unicorns. ;-)


  1. I agree...
    And there will be a unicorn (maybe) in my next book.