Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pick Up Your Ninja Stars and Fight (or not)

Hey, all! How are you today? Were your holidays fantastic? -waits patiently for answer- Oh, good. That's very good -- except for those that weren't. And for you, I suggest cookies. Or Starburst. Either will work wonders, I promise.
So. Christmas is over. Target is no longer a place where you might lose appendages to rabid shoppers, and there will be no more obnoxious music being blasted on the radio. (Well. No more seasonal obnoxious music, at least.) But the stories of Christmas stay around, right? The heart warming ones -- the ones that you hear in school, or occasionally on the television (when the news isn't telling us how we're all going to die, that is) or the ones you just see. This is the time of year that good things happen. That brave and strong people are highlighted in stories.
Which leads to this thought -- why don't we always highlight brave and strong? Why does it take a Christmas story?
And--what is brave? And what is strong?
In movies, it's easy to identify. Look for the red eyes. The covert-behind-the-heroine's-back nod at the not-so-clean-ally. You'll have found the bad guy.
(Most of the time. Sometimes, it could look like this, and then end up way confusing, and we all die a little on the inside.)

But think about books. And think about life. Brave is hard to identify sometimes. We can see cowards without skipping a beat -- the boy who picks the easy way out, the girl who lets herself fall apart without fighting and is too scared to stand on her own, the people who put themselves before everyone, even children, -- but seeing heroes can be harder. The boy who chose to be on his own instead of hurting the people he cares about, the girl who fights for herself, the people who give up their time and energy to take care of children -- are they brave?
I think so.
But we overlook just how brave, and just important, those moments of courage are. We admire them, but defining them as anything more than temporarily admirable is kind of rare. And figuring out brave?
Yeah. Not easy.
Very few of us look at our life and can say that we've always been courageous. That we've always fought for something, some idea, some moral, or some prospect. The only way to get stronger is to fight, but we don't always do it. It's certainly easier not to. But if we read a book a that the character didn't fight, didn't try to be their best, would we keep reading?
Probably not. I mean, we don't like cowards, right? And if someone isn't always brave, then they are indeed a coward. Right? (-insert sarcasm here-)
It's one thing to have a moment of weakness. But inherent weakness? Inherent cowardliness? We would put the book down. Wrinkle our noses.
Despite the fact that we, ourselves, are not always inherently brave. Despite the fact that we don't even acknowledge bravery when we do see it.
Welcome to my Wonderland » <3 Danbo -Roaring Fox

In school, situations go bad fast. Drama, fireworks, whispered rumors, passive aggressive Facebook posts (I'm not kidding. Facebook is a battle ground, yo, and sometimes, there be blood) and flat out meanness can come out of tiny situations. When the situation grows, so can the fallout. And the people who start bandaging problems, who start fixing things, who don't cry, scream, or proclaim that they are going to die, are viewed positively. Brave, even. But take it out of school. Take situations out in the real world. Would simply fixing conflict be brave? Or is confronting the one causing the problem braver? Is it weak to want things to fit back to normal, or would it be wrong to let life crumble?
Courage is relative. It's hard to figure out, and it's messy. Sometimes being brave sucks. When you look to Scarlet O'Hara, a character who is often very brave, but not very nice, we get a character that many people don't like. But she is almost universally admired; I mean, there's a reason that thousands of people have slogged through the hundreds of pages of Gone With The Wind, and it's not just for the corsets.
Because we like to read about heroes. In situations that we never thought we would have to face. In situations we are scared of. In situations that sometimes, aren't even possible. But we read about heroes because we can see bravery, we can figure it out. It's like those Christmas stories -- seeing bravery, seeing heroes, gives us hope and happiness and other fuzzy, sparkly stuff that would totally bake into an awesome cake.
We like making our characters infallible. But it's not brave to fight when you have nothing to lose. It's one of those things in writing that has to be addressed -- weakness is what makes us strong.
Make your characters brave, guys. Make them strong. But remember -- the best heroes are the ones who are like us. Who aren't always brave. Who aren't always strong. Who, sometimes, are scared to fight -- but ultimately, pull out their sword, their machete, or their wicked awesome ninja stars, and fight anyway. Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, even Bella Swan are brave, in the end, because they are scared and fight anyway.  Those are the real heroes.
 (Are you still wrinkling your nose because I called Bella brave? I feel like you are.) (Siggggh.)
More later, guys, probably in the form of reviews. I've got a lot to catch up on. I hope your holiday remainder is fan-flipping-tabulous, all, and don't have too much fun come New Years.
(Or do. I don't judge.)


Colene Murphy said...

Great advice. Love it!

Cipherqueen said...

...you just blew my picture-finding skillz outta da water.


You rock, I'm starting to feel the intense urge to write fanfiction, and I have enough chocolate to become the energizer bunny for another three months. :)

My New Years Resolutions:
1. Finish Glittersea.
2. Return to Blogging.
3. Not freak out about college (I may need your help there...)

HAPPY 2011!

Aspen said...

I had too much fun on New Years *hangs head in shame*

But as always, your posts make me want to write.