Sunday, July 24, 2011

Almost Real

Currently watching "Magic Beyond Words-The J.K. Rowling story" and loving every moment.  There truly is something about seeing an inspiring story about an author who defies the odds.  Even more so, seeing any form of similarities between the hero of all Miss Jo and myself.

One thing has happened that I feel I share--but this one thing is all I need. 

Watching the scene play out--perhaps as it did originally--when Jo shut her eyes on a train and saw a small boy with a lightning shaped scar.  In this dramatic portrayal, she asks his name, and he doesn't answer.  Then, opening her eyes back on the train she breathes it.
          "Harry Potter.  Your name is Harry Potter and you're on your way to school--Wizard School."

I've been writing since I was old enough to string the sentences together.  I still have my first "book" that I wrote--three chapters total I think.  I have several short little stories I wrote in notebooks that I used to draw in. When I was thirteen I started what I believed would be my first real book.  It was utter tripe, let me tell you that.   Borrowed ideas and terrible lack of plot--not to mention it moved far too quickly.   It lacked, well, everything.  It wasn't any good.  No character had ever really been real to me.  I hadn't met any of them and wanted to know their story.

When I was either seventeen or eighteen, I went to the movie "X-Men 2" with my family.  I enjoyed the film; on the way home I listened to contemplative conversation about the ending and what it meant.  My mind, however, began to wander--as my mind often does.  I thought of what it meant to be a Phoenix, even as Harry Potter had defined it.

And then I saw her.  A girl with fiery red hair and blazing green eyes. The best thing about her was that she didn't just stand there.  I saw her the way you see spiderman on top of a building.  That crouched stance, staring down at something with an intense glare.  Her hair whipped about her face, and...

And I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I couldn't help thinking about Phoenix and what she'd be able to do.  The ideas just kept flowing--The Daughter of the Sun and the Moon, given up for reasons that I honestly didn't know yet.  To be raised by a normal family in a tiny town in the farthest reaches of...

Well, of a place.  I knew that much.  When we reached our home, I casually asked my brother if he would read a book about a girl like Phoenix.  I had so few details that it was a very general question.  I asked him if he thought it'd be interesting--and I asked the question in a way that might make it seem like it was a book I was considering reading, not writing.

My brother turned to me, thoughtfully considering my question.  After a few seconds he shrugged and said "Yeah, I'd probably read that.  It sounds good."
My brother doesn't read all that often, but the books he does read are carefully selected for his enjoyment--he's not one to waste his time with pointless storyline.

I casually smiled at him and said "Oh, really?  It's just an idea I had...I think I might start writing about it."
His eyebrows jumped up and his mouth pursed into an intrigued or thoughtful state.  "Good.  You really should.  I think it's a good idea."

And then I was off.  I dreamed, planned, and plotted.  Then I wrote.  I didn't get very far before I realized it was COMPLETELY wrong and tore it out of my notebook.  I rewrote.  Then I stopped again--rewriting once more.

That was so long ago now.  Alright, it was about four-ish years ago.  It feels as though it were ages.

I someday hope that--like J.K. Rowling--I will see my book displayed on shelves in the stores.  To see people sitting and reading it at coffee shops.  Even to do a public reading for anyone who would actually attend.

If you're a writer, tell me if any of your characters jumped out at you, their story following as you dreamed of them--or if you thought up a setting first, or maybe a premise.  Perhaps you didn't even know your main character until you tried to think of who would make your idea most interesting.

I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Last night I went to the midnight showing of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2", and it was the end of an era.  Harry Potter has been a part of my life, either in book or movie form, since I was about 7 years old.  That's 14 years of my life.

The movie, should any of you be on the fence about seeing it, was AMAZING!  This isn't biased either, because I walked out of Deathly Hallows Part 1 feeling a bit cheated.  I love good acting (which it had) and a great plot (which, uh duh), but there was something about Part 1 that just left me cold.

It wasn't enough.  Part 2 answered my need for more.  It was EVERYTHING I could have hoped for, and then some extra stuff I didn't even know I was allowed to hope for.  They told a brilliant story with acting such like I've never seen.

For those who have seen it (SEMI SPOILER SKIP PARAGRAPH IF NOT)The scene with Snape holding her and wailing nearly broke me.  I do mean literally.  It was so powerful, so moving, and so real that I could have fallen out of my chair and sobbed like a small child in the theatre.  In that moment I wanted to be held.  I wanted someone to hold me and tell me it was going to be alright, because Snape was hurting me, and I wanted it to stop.  Alas, no one was there to hold me, and so I just pulled myself together, but when I think of that scene I still feel my heart crack.  Alan Rickman is amazing, and Snape is probably my favorite character (hard to say only one). 

There is nothing more genius than a well written character.  When it comes to writing, I want to be someone who creates a being that you fall in love with (or hate with a passion).
I want my characters to be people that, when I'm done with you, you have to self evaluate and decide the intricacies of your own heart.  Did you really just identify with the villain?  Was that character twist totally unexpected, but yet you knew it all along?
Did you fall in love?
I do.  All the time.  I fall in love with characters right and left when I read, and also when I write.
I fell in love with Draco, Snape, Serius, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Monte Cristo and Mercedes, Katniss and Peta (Hunger Games), Thomas of Hunter(Black), Johnny(Showdown), Thoma and Lucine (Immanuel's Veins).

The lists go on and on.  I fall in love with villains and heroes alike.  It seems now, as I write my own, the bond is stronger in some ways.  Perhaps because they are almost like my children--little pieces of me.  These people I've made who are flawed, but who have a story to tell.  They do horrible things for the name of evil, or they fight for good with everything in them.
It seems, however, that the characters who have stolen my heart are a pair.  These boys aren't kidding around, but are in the business of bad for the long haul.

Eric Lee is something in me that every Christian writer has to have--hope.  Whether or not Eric will turn his ways away from the terrorizing he does with the Army of the King, you can always hope he will.  There is enough that is questionable and likable in him for you to want to believe that people can change.  Eric may never change, but he gives an opportunity for redemption.  He also plays a big role in something that is ALWAYS a big deal plot with me--think Scream 3, Avatar The Last Airbender and Star Wars.  If you can figure out what they have in common, then you, dear genius, will know what theme I love.

Second, I love Lee's Second.  Second in command, that is.  Samson Steele was a character I created long ago as a side thought--more of a gesture of friendship than anything else.  But then, somehow and somewhere, Samson became important.  He strode in front of me, looked me full in the face, and told me that there was more to him than what I had given.
I fought with Samson a lot.  Unlike Lee--whose story, with minor shifts, has always followed the path I originally chose--Samson made me change HUGE plot lines in order to accommodate what could only be called "the truth".

Anything less would have been lies.  It wasn't the way the story played out.  Samson had a role to play--albeit not one most might want him to, but a part none the less.  I couldn't force him into my box of expectations and keep him from being important.  He stands too tall, too proud, and too much like a couple of brothers I know after whom he was originally fashioned, so long ago.  He has long taken his own persona, but there are still a few dominating traits left over from his beginnings as an homage to a duo I adore.

We fall in love with characters.  We see their struggles, their strife, and we cheer them on--either to succeed or to be destroyed, depending on if we like the character or not.  We pick the bad guy and pray for good (Darth Vader and Prince Zuko).  We watch the good guy and actually hope he fails (The police vs Dexter).

So, how come, when it comes to real life and real people we are nothing like our reading/watching selves?  We see people, interact with them daily, and yet we don't show them the love and encouragement we have for fictional beings.
If half of the Harry Potter fans "loved thy neighbor" then we'd have a ridiculously peace ridden world.  No one would go feeling unloved.  Everyone would have someone who makes them feel like they are worth the space they take up day to day.

I'm guilty.  People get on my nerves sometimes.  I want to escape from reality and curl up with a good book or my favorite movie.  I want to escape the people, whom I don't much like, and be presented with characters, whom I know and love.

Girls can read "Pride and Prejudice" a thousand times, sighing at the end of the books each time.  And yet, when presented with a real life Mr. Darcy (as he is in the book) there is no change.  There isn't some grand moment where we girls tell him he is arrogant, even though he's in love with us, and then he chooses to change.
In truth, girls are so backwards that they actually be more attracted to a guy who acts like Mr. Darcy from the beginning of the book then the end.  Treating the "nice guy" like a door mat while they attempt to be noticed by the "bad boy" or the guy who ignores them.

Why can't we love our neighbors?  Why are humans so difficult?  Why can I sit and watch a show about a serial killer named Dexter and love him?  I can't do that in real life.  Present me with a serial killer and regardless of what Jesus thinks, I'm changing the channel in disgust.

Why can't I love my neighbor?
I suppose I've just challenged myself to try harder.  Maybe you will too.