Loser's Guide to Life
Somebody was talking to me the other day about cockroaches, a largely misunderstood animal. If you've ever lived with any, you'll know what the deal is: they stay out of your way until lights out, which is very considerate. They know perfectly well that they're not going to win any popularity contests, and that can't be easy. But they get by.
You could write a story about that, but people would say, “Cockroaches, please, no.” They're tired of them. They dont want to read stories about cockroaches, unless they're magic cockroaches who can talk or be metaphors for something.
One of the oddest and most fantastic passages in the whole history of the world of universal literature ever is one in which Afanasy Fet describes a cactus blooming. It is in a modest story entitled “Cactus”, which tells about some people staying up to watch a particular type of cactus produce its extremely rare flower. How fantastic is that? It's remarkable, both the flower and the idea of these people observing it. Yet many people prefer to read and write about elves and awks (pretty mundane as far as imaginary things go) in spite of the impenetrable mystery of their own surroundings. The reason for that is that fantasy worlds, no matter how intricatley wrought, are fairly simple and controllable and completely free of the big mystery.