Thursday, September 2, 2010

On Success and On Failure

Today, I watched a video on facebook that made me stop and think.

It is the story of a man named Nick, who was born without arms or legs with a very simple message. If you fail, will you try again, and again, and again until you succeed?

Today, I wish to apply this message to the subject of writing both fantasy and science fiction. While this can be used in any genre of writing, there are some applications that just make more sense to use with both fantasy and sci-fi.

There is a common thread that the heroes and villains of both fantasy and science fiction pieces are healthy, strong and evil. At the very least, dramatically misunderstood. They often have to make efforts -- why would we read about these characters? -- but they almost always pick themselves up and succeed .

Usually without nearly half as much of the fuss that we feel as we go through life. (Emo or not.)

The more I think on it, I often see books or stories where characters deal with catastrophic injuries and somehow 'get all better'. Or they are given fake limbs. Luke Skywalker is a classic example. He loses his hand but proceeds to function just as if he had not lost it in the first place through use of replacement limbs. Anakin Skywalker is burned over most of his body and must use a respirator... but he is able to function just fine through the use of science and the force.

Characters are killed frequently in many stories. They are rarely disabled.

I believe that everyone enjoys a story with a happy ending, or at least the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, even if the ending is happy at the end. I do not think may people are comfortable about writing about disabilities, especially when it is not something that they themselves have experienced.

However, one of my favorite books of all time has a crippled boy as a main character. A catastrophically crippled from birth boy who rises above his disability to become something much more than 'just a cripple'.

It is this that I would like to offer as something to consider.

When you write, it is a daily process of getting back up and trying again. And again. And again. For every day that you do not work on your story, you have failed.

Every time you submit a novel for publication and receive a rejection from a house or an editor, do you allow this to bring you down? Does this failure mean that you lose hope that you will succeed?

As a fantasy or science fiction writer, you have the ability to twist the rules of reality to purpose the finer and more troubling aspects of life. You can turn a crippled man into a hero that can walk through science. You can play god with little regard to the real life and the real rules. We step out of the realms of normality each and every day.

But from the books I have been reading as of late, many authors do not pursue the thought of what it would be like for a cripple who does not benefit from the godly powers of science or the fantasy world they have created. Often, the handicaps characters face are emotional or magical in nature. Rarely physical.

Now, I am not saying it does not happen. It does. There are a lot of books I really enjoy that pursue this very subject. But these authors are known to push the envelope and write about things that will take you out of your comfort zone.

When you write you leave your safe, sheltered little box and step into a great big world. Many people write what they know.

My challenge for you is to write something that you do not know. Step into that big bad world and give it all you got.

When you fail, stand up and try again. And no one promised you a pretty novel on a silver platter. You will fail.

All that matters is never stopping trying to stand back up at the end of the day.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE it when a main character ends up with a disability and this changes them rather than the magical "healing" of all problems at the end of the book...

    Okay, that sounded sort of sadistic. I find it great for character development, I should say.

    Best example of this, IMHO? The Queen's Thief series, specifically Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia. Brilliant.