Rediscovering the reason I wanted to be an author

I was reading a blog post by V. C. Chambers about why her two major characters had broken up after three books of trying to create a relationship against all odds. She pointed out that characters having ‘happy, functional relationships’ is boring. There were quite a few comments at the bottom of people agreeing and saying that the ‘real world’ doesn’t have fairy tale endings and is way more screwed up than in books and this got me thinking. See I am an optimist. I refuse to believe that the world is screwed (though there are many convincing arguements). I refuse to believe that ‘once you start down the dark path… forever will it dominate your destiny’ – I mean Darth Vader killed the Emperor, so pretty much anyone can change, right? I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m definitely not saying that because they ‘can’ they ‘will’, but I have to believe it’s possible – and so when I write stories, I try to give all of my characters (even the bad guys) that chance.

I remember a few years ago, when I was toying with the idea of being an author, I was worried it would be ‘copping out’ as it were – I mean being a writer is hardly going to make a difference to the world compared to being a doctor or an aid worker. There are so many brave people working really hard to try and make the world a better place… but then I thought – I can do that to. Stories are everywhere. Media is that thing we consume in big guilty helpings just like chocolate and ice cream. When the world is getting too fast, too confusing, we grab a book, or a film, or download the latest episode of Dr Who and run away. Growing up, we use media as a reference point – are we ‘cool’ or a ‘weirdo’? Is my boyfriend a ‘prince charming’? What is ‘romantic’? You might argue that morality is innate, but ‘normality’ certainly isn’t. So how does being an author fit? I guess I figured maybe, if I was one of the people writing the stories, I could provide an alternative narrative.

Essentially, I want to be happy (who doesn’t?) and I want other people to be happy… but in a more long term sense, because if the world gets all screwed up, that’s a whole lot of really unhappy people (self and loved ones included). Of course I want to do practical, useful things as well, but I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that I can’t do everything. There is no human way that I can save the world all by my self – that’s just insane. Instead, if I try to do the right things in my own life and then reach out by writing stories where people find ways to overcome differences, where people fall in love and don’t break up at the first sign of trouble, where stereotypes don’t begin to scratch the surface of who someone really is… I dunno, maybe it would be a worthy contribution for this life.

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