I just got back from being a dragonrider this weekend, and boy are my dragon’s wings tired.
Wait, let me back up.
I first discovered Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books in 7th grade. Our English class was doing units on different genres, and for one of them, I selected Dragonquest, the second book in the Dragonriders of Pern series. It changed my life.
It was not my first SFF book. But it was my first adult SFF novel, one that took place in a fully-developed secondary world that was so well fleshed out, so finely detailed, that I felt like I could live there. It made me see exactly what SFF was capable of, when it came to building entire new worlds of imagination to explore.
It was not the book that made me start writing, or think of being a writer. But it was the book that made me realize I wanted to write for the rest of my life. Like most kids, my career aspirations by middle school had wandered all over the map, from botanist to musician, from ballet dancer to ichthyologist (yeah, I wanted to study fish for a while there, and I loved being able to say “ichthyologist”). But the Dragonriders of Pern series honed my aspirations to a fine point: I wanted to write, to be an author and create brilliant worlds like Anne McCaffrey.
I’ve been writing ever since.
Not coincidentally, I’ve loved dragons ever since.
I had the privilege of being able to meet Ms. McCaffrey once, at her Dragonhold home in Ireland, over 15 years ago. I remember her as warm and welcoming, willing without hesitation to spend a morning entertaining a fan and feeding me lunch. (She made me a BLT!) Her hospitality, in fact, was a well-known side of her, as so many people will attest. I will always remember her fondly as the woman whose works changed my life, and who was also kind enough to give me a lift to the train station.
And so, in deepest love for those books and the woman who wrote them, I find myself once a year at Fort Fest, an annual retreat for a Pern role-playing fan club. I get to enjoy the great outdoors and hang out with fellow McCaffrey fans, the sort of folks who are hospitable and creative and have way too many dragon-themed toys and crafts. (Although, can anyone truly be said to have too many dragon-themed toys and crafts? asks the woman who has dedicated an entire bookshelf just to her dragon figurines…) It’s always a good time, full of games and music, feasting and costumes, nature walks and mutual complaining about all these fire lizards getting everywhere.
There’s no moral to this story. This is just me telling you about a beautiful thing that exists because one woman, somewhere, had a beautiful heart and wrote beautiful stories. That’s a true joy of art: the hope that your work will resonate with someone, may move them to create something in their turn, may even change their life for the better.
So, make things. Put them out there. Who knows? The story you’re telling might bring someone joy. It might encourage someone to create in their turn. It might be exactly what someone out there needs to hear.