About This Blog

Children's literature: reading it, writing it, and loving it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stories are Gifts

I've heard people refer to their love of reading fiction as a "guilty pleasure." They're only half joking. In the constant hustle of our wealth-seeking, have-it-all, do-it-all culture, to immerse oneself in a good story can sometimes feel like an indulgence worthy of the guillotine.But can you imagine a life without stories?

People love a good story, and not without reason. We aren't robots. We aren't simply data-collecting entities that suck in information and spit out productivity. We're human, which means we're relational. We love to hear about other humans, and we love to hear it as a story rather than an enumerated list of dates and times and facts. We want the details. We want to be drawn in. We want to become a part of a story that isn't ours. We want to feel, to smell, to touch, to taste, and to hear another world, another time.

A couple of years ago, a Starbucks barrista handed me the soy vanilla latte that I'd ordered. The cardboard sleeve wrapped around it read, "Stories are gifts. SHARE." I still have that sleeve on the bulletin board above my writing desk. It reminds me that what I do, when creating a fictitious childhood world, isn't an enabling of guilty pleasures at an early age. It isn't frivolous. Stories are as necessary to life as flowers, birdsong, art, and music. These things enrich our lives. They are all gifts.

Fiction makes life and truth palatable and understandable. Even Jesus used figurative speech and told stories, and whether an author intends to make a particular point or not, points are made and lessons are taught in every piece of fiction. Whether it's encouragement to embrace change (as in The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy) or the ever-popular good-triumphs-over-evil (as in Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Fablehaven, etc. etc. etc.), novels make their points, regardless of however silly or sinister the plot and characters might be. They teach and encourage, and they make it fun.

So, keep reading! Keep writing! You'll make yourself and our world a better place.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Underdog, David, and Me

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

Oh how I loved that guy - the scrawny little pup-cum-super-hero! Unlike Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, or even Peter Parker, I could easily relate to Underdog...I still can.

I recently listened to David and Goliath, a book by Malcolm Gladwell. A book about underdogs. In it, Gladwell expounds on the reality that Hollywood makes millions off of every year: with the right strategy, the little guy wins. The book is comprised of example after example throughout history, academia, and sports of soldiers, students, and athletes turning their disadvantage into their advantage. In every instance, the individual had to learn how to think outside the box as David did when he faced Goliath.

Do you ever feel like the underdog? I do. As I run the course toward traditional publication, my legs are leaden, weighted down with my disadvantages: responsibilities that having nothing to do with my goal and an educational background that didn't include a catalog of writing courses. 

I so often hear people talk about their dreams. Then they tack on, "but I just don't have the time." I don't want to be one of those people - giving up on a dream because of a perceived disadvantage.  While I may not get to write as often as I'd like or for as long as I'd like, and although I may be surrounded by those who write forty or sixty or eighty hours a week and who have masters degrees in creative writing or journalism, I'll stay the course. I'll write whenever I can. It may be ten minutes or two hours a day, but I'll write. I'll turn my lack of time into an advantage because over the years of not having enough time, I've learned how to squeeze minutes from the rock of time; and when I'm tempted to complain, I'll think of David and remember Underdog.