If you’re like me, you’ve been writing for a LONG time. Maybe since the time you were 7,8,9, 10 years old. You came up with a bunch of different stories along the way. Some of them would probably make you cringe now, some would make you laugh. Maybe some of them would even make you feel proud.
All of that is definitely true for me. I’ve got a big bin full of all my old, silly little stories. Some of my current stories actually have similar themes or plots that can be traced back to the “books” I wrote when I was 9 or 10 years old. It’s funny, and even inspiring, to realize how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown as a writer since the time I wrote those stories.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about the significance of reconnecting with my “story-roots”.
Think about it.
Nowadays, people will applaud an author for creating a “realistic” character, “a clever, super-malicious” villain, and a “dark” or “intricate” plot. We appreciate having characters that we can relate too; it’s annoying when a character is too perfect, or doesn’t stumble or fall throughout the story. We also like super-bad villains, who are always “one step ahead” of the good guys. And we like sophisticated plots, with a touch of exciting “darkness”, as presented by the villain.
But remember those stories you wrote when you were little? What was the main character like?
He or she was probably more than just a “main character”; they were the hero. They perfectly exuded your child-like (not childish) understanding of virtue and heroism. They were truly outstanding people.
Sometimes, reconnecting with your story roots is good for your soul.
Writing is an expression of the self. It’s an art. It requires us to reach deep within ourselves and pull something out, and portray that something in a way that is beautiful, logical, and even personal. Nowadays, everyone is focused on creating those three things: a realistic character, a super-bad villain, and an intricate plot. Thus, as we are directing all of our attention on creating a realistic character, a malicious villain, or a dark plot, what exactly are we doing to ourselves internally?
We’re tearing ourselves down, in a way. Ask yourself a blunt, idealistic question: Why would I want to read about a main character—a hero—that is just like me? Relatable heroes are great. But why would anyone want a “real-latable” character, meaning, a hero that acts like a real person?
People are great. But people also aren’t great.
Sometimes, I think it’s OK to feel a little sick of “relatable” heroes: heroes that fall and make mistakes, and are even okay with making mistakes…and even more mistakes. Because I don’t want just “relatable” heroes. I want ideal heroes.
I don’t need to see another person wallowing in the same problems and temptations and failures that I’ve fallen into. I need a light, a hero that can show me how to act and who I should be. I want to see someone living the way people should live, not the way people do live. Maybe that sounds stupid, naive, and idealistic.
In the present time, as “grown-ups”, we reach inside ourselves for that dirty, impure, but realistic main character. We also have to picture ourselves as the cruel, arrogantly clever villain. We become more detached from our pure, childlike story roots. We sacrifice our understanding of virtue so that we can have a deeper understanding of the dark side of humanity. Doesn’t that sound a little unwise, insofar as spiritual formation goes?
That’s why I’m telling you to look at your first stories.
The hero was truly heroic, wasn’t he? He was simple. He was “idealistic”. Maybe he was too perfect. But that says something about you, doesn’t it? When you were little, you knew who you wanted to be, and who you should be when you grow up.
But nowadays, all writers can focus on is how people are. And people aren’t always great. Were disgusting, underhanded, cruel little creatures. We’re always searching for power, for pleasure, or even for love…in all the wrong places. And society has accepted this as “realistic, relatable” behavior.
Well, sometimes what we need is a douse of heroism. A douse of childlike virtue and hope in what is right. We need to reconnect with our childlike roots and rediscover who we should be, not just who we are. If all writers simply focused on humanity as we are, how will we ever grow into what we should be?
I apologize if this was a naive post. But it’s just something to think about. Sometimes we need the realistic, but I think we shouldn’t lose sight of the ideal too.
Tell me what you think!
Like me as a blogger? Like the way I write?
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