Wednesday, September 26, 2012

One of Those Little Quirks…

I know that I said I was shooting for weekly posts, and I’ve already failed. I’m sorry, but I will certainly try and do better in the future.

I recently read Inkheart for the first time, and it thoroughly entertained me. I saw the movie a couple of years ago, and while there are many who dislike it, I personally enjoyed the film. Now, having read the book, I can see why some fans were upset. But, in my personal opinion, the movie was still a fairly good cinematic rendering.

Nonetheless, I’m not here to go on about the differences between the movie and book versions of Inkheart. My purpose isn’t even really to remark on the story itself. I will say that it’s an excellent book, and I’m excited to read the rest of the series. However, I want to pull something from the book. Fenoglio, the author of the fictional Inkheart, which is a part of the story, continually remarks upon how pleased he is with his villain, Capricorn, and Capricorn’s various henchmen, brought to life by Silvertongue’s unique talent. The other characters in the story, and I’m guessing most readers, are vaguely disgusted by the odd pleasure that Fenoglio takes in those characters who are, well, less than appealing.

As a writer myself, though, I can understand Fenoglio’s reaction. Would I have reacted the same way he did? I don’t know. Still, I can empathize with his strange enjoyment.Writers are an odd breed in some ways. While we enjoy reading too – in fact, it is nearly impossible to be a good writer without being a heavy reader – we tend to read our own works with a very different view than our readers do. Those scenes that our readers can’t stand are often our favorites, and those characters that our readers wish didn’t exist make us delirious with excitement. For example, in one of my books, I wrote a few particularly sad scenes. Many of my friends who read the book were upset with me after reading those parts. And yet, they are some of my favorite scenes in the entire book.

Why is this, you ask? What possible reason could I have for enjoying my characters’ pain or discomfort? Let me clarify and say that I don’t enjoy their suffering. The reason that I enjoy the two scenes I’m thinking of in particular are because of one word – emotion. They are two of the most emotion-eliciting scenes in the story. And since the point of any book is to create emotion, I consider my job done when I’ve wrung the correct emotional response from my readers.

So, for those of you who do write, I encourage you not to worry when you find yourself pleased with the page that makes you cry. If it’s a sad page and you react that way, then you are most likely writing a good story. As long as you don’t take a morbid pleasure in death and destruction, then I would say that your reaction is pretty normal. And for those of you who don’t write and don’t understand writers at all, I hope I’ve enlightened you a bit. See, we’re not weirdly pleased with those parts of our stories that make you cringe because we like them; we’re happy because they are some of our best writing. Those villains that genuinely scare our readers, those death scenes that cause tears to stream down their cheeks, those goodbyes that rend their hearts in two – those are our finest moments, because they bring out emotion in our readers. They show that the reader is connected to the story. And therefore they will always bring us the greatest pride.

I realize that I started this post off talking about Inkheart, and I’d just like to take a moment and recommend it to those of you who haven’t read it. Inkheart is a very gripping, well-written tale that had me captivated, and if you haven’t read it, I definitely encourage you to do so. Anyway, now you not only know one of those odd little quirks that writers have, but hopefully you understand why we have it too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

As a Little Child

Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) Become like little children? What a concept! Of course, many Christians think they understand what Jesus meant. Children have an innocence and trust that most adults have lost. Kids have a bigger dose of faith than the rest of us, generally. And while this is of course an excellent application of Jesus’ wisdom, I think there is more to it.

I left my water bottle in the car the other night, and the next morning, as I contemplated the cold air outside, I didn’t really want to go get it. So, I asked my little brother, who’s five, if he wanted to retrieve it for me(yes, I was being lazy, but that’s not the point here). He didn’t protest even a little bit. Instead, he quickly said, “Okay!” and happily set to it. And it was so adorable to watch him clomp out there in his pajamas and rain boots to fetch me my water bottle. I felt so loved.

We often consider little kids to be selfish. And they are, it’s true. Children can be the most self-centered beings on the planet. One of their first phrases is “I want.” They scream and throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want. They can be the bane of a parent’s existence. But they also have a huge capacity to give of themselves. Every now and then, family members get the joy of glimpsing a little piece of Heaven in their children. Every child, I think, has a purity in their soul that comes out in a desire to please people. Children really and truly love to make others happy.

As I watched my brother bring me my water bottle that morning, cheerfully remarking that he was cold, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this is part of what Jesus meant. Maybe part of becoming like a little child is truly giving of ourselves. Perhaps it’s learning to love unreservedly. Could it be that part of being childlike is forgetting our own happiness for a moment in order to focus on others?

Jesus said that you must become like a small child in order to enter His kingdom. So perhaps we need to stop thinking like adults sometimes and remember that “me” does not need to be our first thought. There are many others out there in this big world besides you and I, and, like my brother, maybe we all need to learn to look for ways to please. Maybe we need to love people with pure hearts and no expectations.

Hello, Everyone!

I can’t help but feel a bit odd posting this, since few people will probably ever see it. But that’s how it goes with first posts, right? Still, I’d feel even more odd just jumping into my posts without a single word of introduction. So, here I go!
As the description of my blog up there says, I am a writer. I believe that God has gifted me with some ability to create stories and put words together in a pleasing manner. I hope that this blog will give me a chance to share that with all of you. For now, I hope to post at least once a week. I would like to be more frequent than that at some point soon, but for now, I’ll just stick with that. Baby steps can be a good thing, right? I have all kinds of ideas for posts ranging from lessons I’ve learned about God and life to snippets of my stories to literature and movie critiques. My hope is that in that broad range of topics, you’ll find something that interests you.
This blog will be a journey for me, I’m sure. But it’s a journey that I’m excited to start. I hope and pray that through my journey, you will be blessed. So, as they say, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Maybe you’ll join me for these first steps, and, who knows? Perhaps you’ll decide to walk along the journey too!