Invoking Freedom by Gabriel Flores Bernard

I never gave much thought to fairy tales, apart from the Disney interpretations I grew up with. I thought fairy tales were no more than children’s stories. I did not think about their adaptations, histories, reflections on humanity, and freedom of expression. I would gain an appreciation for fairy tales in the first unit of the school year. Led by published poet Fatima Kola, the unit was a lesson on what constitutes a fairy tale and how writers use and develop stories to promote social awareness and change. The unit culminated in a final project, where all students wrote their fairy tale, limits are damned. I did not expect to have as much fun writing a fairy tale as I did.

As a writer who loves to world-build fantastical realms and lore, fairy tales are a drastic change from my usual writing style. Events occur because why not? Magic is all but grounded in explanation. One does not question how the magic came to be, just that the magic pushes the story along. Magical surrealism in fairy tales has more freedom compared to other story types. Magic is integral to fairy tales, whether subtle or upfront. For me, to create another reality without explanation was weirdly foreign and frightening. To write extensive reasoning for my world is essential, a way for an overthinker to organize his chaotic imagination. I was unsure how to feel or approach my final project, written in a medium that embraced chaos.

However, as I put my worries aside and allowed words to flow, the chaos I resented became freedom. As much as I enjoy writing lore for my worlds, the process can be time-consuming and tiring. Fairy tales are lighter than other stories and carry less stress. Writing is always difficult, no matter the format, but fairy tales felt casual while incorporating the magical elements that add spice to stories. At the end of the unit, I felt confident in my final project, and most importantly, I enjoyed putting the work together. Fairy tales are a spectacular medium for writers who want to escape reality without the shackles of reality.

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