My First Love

Other than my faith and loyalty to my family and friends, books and stories were my first love.

I first fell in love with bed time stories: Cordoury and his missing button; Whinnie the Pooh and all the delightful adventures he went on with his friends; Amelia Bedelia and her countless mishaps. I fell in love with the things that made me laugh and the things that made me sad. I learned from these stories that life is full of wonder.

Then, I fell in love with an amazing place called Narnia. This ordinary girl finds herself in an extraordinary situation and rather than stepping back to think about what should be done, she follows her heart and steps bravely forward into an entirely new world located…in a wardrobe. I fell in love with the magic and creatures and characters. No matter who they were, I could relate to them on some level. From The Chronicles of Narnia, I learned magic does exist even in the ordinary.

As I grew older, I fell in love with the world of reading. I read as much as I could get my hands on. Science fiction, the entire American Girl series, The Saddleback Club, Star Wars fiction, fantasy, The Lord of the Rings, classics–the list was endless. I obviously had preferences for certain genres but my “to read” list has alway been a smorgasbord.

Sometime around sixth grade, I feel in love with creating my own stories. My first attempts were reflections of favorite stories I had watched or read. I loved describing characters, discovering worlds, and finding out what happened to the people in these places. I loved writing with pen and paper. I loved typing furiously on the computer when my thoughts raced ahead of my fingers. I loved knowing that I was making a place that was as real as anything I could see or feel.

In high school and college, I fell in love with seeking truth through writing. I had amazing teachers and professors who helped me hone my craft through writing columns for school newspapers, analyzing literature, researching history and politics, and learning how to best present my opinions in a logical, well-thought out way. I fell in love with people disagreeing with my words or relating to them wholeheartedly. I fell in love with the truth that words and idea should can change the world*.

Now, as an adult, I am in love with the process of writing and understanding the creation of stories in any medium. I love writing without having to think about it. I love working hard and planning my sessions. I love research. I love looking at other books and films and television shows and songs and seeing how they can make me a better writer. How did they approach a character? Why did they make this decision about the character’s costume? Why is the setting so important? What is a camera angle contributing to a scene? How do cliffhangers work as effective storytelling devices? How does a key change or specific instrumental solo elevate a song from notes to something that touches the soul?

So when I doubt my abilities, I think of all these things and remind myself of this simple truth: I am a writer and no one will ever be able to take that away from me.

*Paraphrase of quote from Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society.


Characters and Friends

I love reading. I love stories. I have grown up with my nose in a book. And I am the weird person who says books are some of my best friends.

But when I really think about it, it is not the books who are my friends. It is the characters.

The reason we love characters is because we see pieces of ourselves in them. Whether it is the situation they are in, their emotions, or their fears, we look at characters and see reflections of ourselves and maybe even glimpses of our souls.

Books, films, and television shows lead us on a journey of events and stories. But they also allow us to discover and understand ourselves better by seeing our lives as played out by someone else.

One of the deepest and most moving emotional connections I have ever had is with Katniss Everdeen. I have never been through something as awful as the Hunger Games or war but I have experienced a number of fairly traumatic things. The first time I read The Hunger Games, I felt like I was meeting a part of myself. Katniss’ actions and emotions and thought patterns were not just relatable. I felt like they could have come from my own mind.

This type of understanding is a beautiful combination of self-realization and philosophy. As the words dance off the page and images flash across our eyes, they spiral through the room in a magical haze carrying you into a mind and place of strange comfort in a magical or fantastical place.

You are not walking side by side with the character. You are the character and you are part of the story.

So here’s to all the characters that have made me feel like I am not alone. To Katniss for showing me I am stronger than I think I am. To Sherlock for telling me it is okay to be different. To Mulan for reminding me I can make a difference. To Bilbo and Frodo Baggins for teaching me about courage. To Samwise Gamgee for showing me the importance of friendship hand loyalty. To Hermione for telling me it is okay to be a geek and an intellectual and to stand tall and proud exactly the way I am. To River Tam for reminding me broken is not all I have to be. To Jacen Solo for showing me that good intentions and well-thought out philosophies do not always lead to the right answers. To Lucy Pevensie for reminding to dream.

And to all the characters I have yet to meet: I look forward to our shared experiences and walking through the pages and spaces of life together.