Saturday, July 24, 2010

Learning Life’s Lessons through Characters

What do all (at least most) stories need to have to be ‘good’?

Well, one answer could be conflict. Our stories need conflict because that’s how our characters show who they really are, and that’s how our story moves towards its ending. Unlike life, where conflicts never completely seize to exist, the conflicts in our stories need a strong enough sense of resolution that we can call it ‘the end’. Is this not one major reason why we enjoy stories so much – that we can experience a sense of resolution that is usually beyond our reach in real life?

What characters are the ones we love the best? Are they the ones that we feel did the right thing when others would not? Are they the ones that are the most ‘like us’ or the ‘us’ we want to be? Are they the ones who remind of someone we love?

Obviously, we all have different favorite characters, but we each see something in that character that is meaningful to us. The characters I really loved, like Atticus Finch, Frodo Baggins, and Harry Potter – to name a few – represented much more to me than simple fiction characters; sometime in the course of reading their story, we (the character and I) became intertwined with each other:

Frodo’s daunting struggle to destroy the One Ring grew into my desire to see it destroyed; Harry Potter’s terrorizing struggle to defeat Lord Voldamort grew into my desire to see him defeated; Atticus Finch’s struggle to stand up for social justice grew into my desire to see it prevail.

Story characters can become role models, teachers, and companions for us; they can go places, do things, and face things that perhaps we’d be too afraid to do ourselves, and they can share that wisdom with us through their story. Through facing tough challenges, making difficult decisions, or learning how to stand for something, these characters represent important elements of the human struggle. By eavesdropping on their challenges, these characters can show us how to better face our own. Life’s lessons, though in large part can only be learned through experience, can also be understood in part through others experiences.

The songs of life sing just as true in fiction as they do in life for you.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why I Write (A Poem?)

Why do I write?

I write because I must
Because there is a part of me which yearns to be free
A voice – If I can call it that – that seeks formation from deep within me
Writing is where I feel at one with this voice
It’s ancient yet fresh, wise yet childish, real yet mysterious.

I write because I feel alive when I do
When sounds seize to beseech me and silence envelops the world around me
Only then do I taste the fruit of my own muse.

I write because I love to
Because if I don’t I will never know this part of me that yearns to be free
Never live through this child within me.

As a small child I sought its elusive melody
Always venturing out of sight as soon as I caught glance of its rays
I sought it when life couldn’t bring me joy, when family couldn’t bring me love, and when friends couldn’t bring me understanding.
I sought it when I was alone in a world that didn’t seem right for me, in a society that didn’t seem to work for me, and in a culture that seemed totally different than me.

Writing is where I fit in
It’s where the melodies of my life find harmony
Where my frustrations with the world find understanding and acceptance.

Writing is where I connect with the world, with society, and with my culture
It’s where I find solace, purpose, and possibility.
It’s where everything seems right, despite all the tragedies of life.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Solitude and Writing

Writer's have long cherished solitude, whether in the city or in the wilderness. Personally, I enjoy a bit of both.

Many of us need solitude, especially writers, readers, artists, thinkers, and the like. In fact, I might argue that some degree of solitude is necessary for a well balanced life. Regardless, I am someone who needs solitude and a social life. I find comfort in solitude, muse in solitude, and inspiration in solitude; but there is also a lot I can’t find in solitude, like all that comes with relationships and families.

In the city (or town) we are connected again to the ebb and flow of civilized life - and the society of which we seek to influence through our writing. It's important to maintain this connection, despite how annoying, chaotic, and distractive it can be at times. Through marinating this connection, we give ourselves the opportunity to touch others' lives and others' the opportunity to touch our own. This is an important part of life, an essential part of life. We need human connection and interaction; we need each other.

In solitude we are driven to examine ourselves, be more contemplative about life, and become more centered in our own being. Solitude allows us the peace and quiet to think deeply, wonder about things, and explore our passions and imagination. In solitude we can, like watering a plant, nourish our roots with the nectar of our dreams and passions, so that we may blossom when the season is right. Writing is a very solitary activity, and being a writer is a very solitary way of being. We dig into ourselves, glancing around the corners of our imagination, positioning the stones of our dreams, and tasting the fruits of our passions – and with each new discovery, we further shape and sculpt the character we play in life. In solitude, perhaps we make peace with a chaotic world for a while; perhaps we find comfort in simple things once again; perhaps we are reminded why we really love life, despite its chaos, and want to share it with others. So we write.