Talking about fantasies with another writer has spurred on this blog post. Fantasies are a big part of life. We use them every day. My husband talks about role-playing in the same way I do about fantasies... we all participate in it, even if it's just imagining winning the lottery and how much easier your life will be afterwards. Fantasy fans take it a step further, imagining living in another world, being another person, being the hero. Even Karl Marx had words to say about it, saying that religion is the opiate for the masses.
I don't think there's anything wrong with that, to an extent. My key is always "everything in moderation". It has been for years. This comes from watching people destroy themselves over an excess of things, whether it be drugs or alcohol, or a person, a thing, a collection, a fantasy... what-have-you. Fantasies keep us going. They fuel our creativity, and drive to make the world a better place. Every great scientific idea comes from someone dreaming it first, and then making it reality. Our imagination is the most powerful tool we have.
As a writer, I'm the drug peddler here. I'm selling you the things I dreamed to help you dream them. The fantasies I make up are read, and taken into someone else's head where they make their own dreams about them. That's... kind of a heady experience when you stop and think about it. People get obsessed over books and movies--just look at the popularity of Harry Potter for an example!--and they get inspired to create their own dreams. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and I believe it. People can get so enthralled by someone's dreams they try to make them into reality. That's when it gets dangerous.
It's good to be able to imagine a better place to help escape from the troubles of day to day life. When it's taken too far, such as actually believing Harry Potter exists, is when people detach from reality to live in the fantasy for whatever reason. It's important to keep dreaming, but also to stay grounded. You cannot build your dreams if you do not have a solid foundation from where to start. So I think it's important to mention that when I write about traveling to other worlds or werewolves or vampires or impossible sexual positions... it's a fantasy. It's not real. I'm writing these things to share my fantasies with my readers, to help them dream, to give a smile or a gasp of delight (or horror!), and to entertain people for a little while.
If I want to be fucking crude about it, I'm selling orgasms. Only three bucks a pop. Yet, c'mon now, who wouldn't pay three bucks for a ten second orgasm? Yeah, that's what I thought. Escapism through fantasy is often the drug of choice for people, even if they don't realize it.