After reading this soul-crushing eye-opening post from Katie Grace that dashed all my heroic delusions and left me in a self-pitying puddle on the floor, I have decided that it is time to take action.
Although I have not received my Hogwarts letter, been whisked away to Camp Half Blood by a flying horse, heard my name called in the Reaping (although, honestly, I’m a bit relieved about that one), stumbled into a magical wood by walking through a wardrobe (though not from lack of trying!), or had a party of thirteen dwarves show up unexpectedly at my door …
I have not given up hope.
The Road goes ever on and on, ‘tis said, and who knows what rare fantasy adventure might await around the next corner?
So … no better time than the present to start training! #WeWillRiseUp That’s right. So, after minutes months of research, I have pooled all the collective wisdom I could gather and am now pleased to offer you this ultimate training guide to prepare you to enter your favorite fantasy storyworld.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
I don’t know about you, but most of my favorite storyworlds lack one key element: modern transportation. Looks like you and I are going to have to rely on our own two feet to carry us places, which means, now is the time to invest in some good footwear.
(On a side note, portal fantasy is just too fun because it allows fantasy characters to interact with gear from our world. I feel like the introduction of tennis shoes into a fantasy world would be earth-shattering. Can’t you just picture a medieval knight—in full plate armor—inspecting a pair of tennis shoes?
“What are these things that thou wearest upon thy feet? They are so light and durable. Methinks thou couldst outrun a horse!” … Hmm, maybe I should take up writing commercials for Addias. What do you think?)
This is the bread and meat of travel in most fantasy worlds. As I started to write up a plan of action for mastering this skill set—
Start now with a hike or two a week. Before you know it, you’ll be a walking machine! Move on to longer hikes. Practice carrying your gear on your back
—I realized that the perfect training ground already exists! College campuses. Think about it! Long distances. Little time. Every textbook ever written stuffed into your backpack. Kudos to those of you already in college because you are well on your way to honing your heroic walking skills.
In case you haven’t noticed, heroes do a LOT of running. More than they’d like us to think, because running isn’t always very heroic, especially if you’re running away instead of toward something. (As a side note, did anyone count the number of times Gandalf shouted “run” in the Hobbit movies? Pretty sure it ranked in the dozens.)
Mastering this skill is a little trickier for those who prefer running only when running from the Uruk-hai. Unfortunately, it’s a sad—but little acknowledged fact—that if one wants to be able to outrun the Uruk-hai, one has to be able to run. There are always ways to trick yourself into running. My favorite: try sprinting past a handful of preschoolers with cookies. I guarantee they’ll chase you, and I guarantee that you’ll want to run!
Honestly … I’m not sure how to help with this one. It is one of those truly essential skills, if you wind up in a place like Middle Earth. But I am afraid it is generally frowned upon in modern circles. And by frowned upon, I do mean highly illegal and certain to get you incarcerated.
Whatever the mode of transportation, always remember, “Shortcuts make long delays!”
It’s always best to make a clean break, so let’s go ahead and say farewell to the ease of fast food restaurants, insta-meals, and grocery shopping. Food is often a scarcity in our favorite spec fic novels. Particularly if you’re questing. Dried meat, hard bread, and oddly enough stew seem to be favorites. I’d suggest changing your diet now so you can adjust, and get used to cooking stew while on the march. (It takes major skills, people. Major skills.)
You also probably want to perfect your hunting abilities. It’s considered normal for characters to make camp in the evening, go hunting, kill a rabbit or three, skin, gut, and dice the creatures, and have time to whip up an excellent stew before hitting the sack. Bit of a tall order for anyone, let alone those of us who generally rely on the grocery shelves rather than the woods to supply our meat.
But let’s face it, folks, the worst hardship of all … is the lack of coffee.
How does anyone survive?
As much as I like the idea of diving into my favorite spec fic storyworld, the lack of coffee is almost enough to convince me to stay put. We writer-types do love our coffee!
Say goodbye to your comfy bed and feather pillow. In fact, if you hope to get any sleep while in-world, it’s best to prepare yourself now for sleeping on the cold, hard ground beneath the stars. If you’re lucky. If not, then beneath the rain. (Don’t worry. I’m sure your neighbors won’t think twice about you sprawling out on the lawn to sleep.) When you do have the chance to get out of the elements, chances are you will have to resort to cramped inn quarters or piles of straw in the stable. (Hope you’re not allergic.)
But that’s okay, because chances are you’re not going to have much opportunity to sleep in any case. Apparently characters in novels never need to sleep … or don’t need to sleep nearly as much as we enjoy sleeping. Maybe that’s why they so often make rash decisions, or why those dramatic romantic subplots that could be solved by a simple conversation often take a whole book to resolve—the main characters are simply exhausted and grumpy.
(See why “no coffee” is such a big thing! For REAL, people, for REAL!)
There are about a million other things we could cover, but I think that’s a decent start for now. What say you? Will you join me in training to enter our favorite spec fic novels? What are some other things that you think we should add to our lists so we’ll be ready? Share your legendary wisdom in the comments!
In other news, I’m currently running a giveaway for Songkeeper over on Goodreads! You should go enter and tell your friends about it too! (Because who doesn’t want a chance to win a free book.) Also, if we’re not friends yet on Goodreads, we should be. And thirdly – because the OCD grammatical warrior inside of me apparently has no issue with starting the final point of a non-numerical list with “thirdly” – why not add Orphan’s Song and Songkeeper to your bookshelves on Goodreads?
I’m told they look rather nice on bookshelves, virtual or otherwise …
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