Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Books I Loved as a Teen and the Heroes I Connected With
I'd love to say I write to appeal to a large audience. I mean, that's what professional writers are supposed to do, right? Write and write and write to get a lot of fans so you can quit your job and write more books? First of all, the whole quitting your job thing...that happens to a very rare few, so it's best we writers toss that goal right out the window. It's not the one that should lead us. And secondly, I've come to firmly believe you can't make a large audience your goal, either. It's often a very delightful outcome, but when setting words to paper, you should have one or maybe just a few people in mind. You should write to yourself, your spouse, your mother or father, your best friend, sister, or brother. And once you've written enough, you'll get past all the obtuseness and self-righteousness about how your art is your ART, and you'll really start connecting with people. That's when the large audience comes. It comes from writing to one person, fully and completely, forgetting about how pretty your sentences are and embracing the language of the soul. And yeah, that sounds heavy, but if you're a human being, you're already more than halfway there to writing to connect to other human beings. And I assume we're all human beings? I don't think there are really any animals out there writing books. ;) So, who do you write to? I write to my teenage self. The girl who was looking for books about broken people who became heroes. It didn't matter if they were weak or confused or too girly or too bad. They saved someone. Maybe it was the world, maybe it was just a friend or a guy down the street. The point was, they were imperfect and they still made a difference. For this reason, I loved anything written by Mark Twain or Jonathan Swift. Tolkien became my own personal hero. I wanted to BE Frodo--the little hobbit who just had the power to say no a little bit longer than anybody else, and even in the end his weakness almost overpowered him. And Spiderman. I became obsessed with Spiderman. Here was a guy who dealt with his own personal demons, the "nobody" living with his aunt, who saved people. He hid who he really was, dealt with severe hatred coming from the very people he attempted to save. Weaknesses. That's what my teenage self craved to see. Weaknesses and failings that worked out to make a person a hero. And I think there are a whole lot of other teens out there who crave to see this, too. I'm positive I wasn't alone. So, who do you write to? And what are you trying to say to that person?