Apologies, blog, for not writing in you for so long. I’ve been thinking about you! But as I suspected, I need to get into the habit of writing here regularly, which means I need to find a way to make myself accountable. We’ll figure it out.
The first week I forgot to update, a bunch of things happened across the country and the world, and a lot of people died. This happens every week, but the din seemed much louder than usual, mostly due to the manner in which people died.
It’s no secret that we’ve got a ton of problems in this world, all of which are continuations of problems we’ve had for centuries. Nothing is new, honestly; they’re just different manifestations of the same tired conflicts, and all of them stem from fear: fear of the Other, fear of loss, fear of change, etc. Race, religion, gender, sexuality, physical and mental health – if someone differs from you in at least one of these aspects, suddenly there’s a fear there, though it may not always be malicious. Perhaps you fear not understanding them and then being judged for not understanding; perhaps you fear offending them; perhaps you fear having to face the fact that what you took to be a universal truth may very well not be. Or maybe you fear worse things: that they’ll steal what you believe is yours, or they’ll corrupt the world you know to be good and fair and just. Whatever the case may be, fear is the heart of conflict, and the one of the few ways to eliminate fear is to know what you’re facing.
There are many ways of facing the unknown: you can go to it and face it head-on, you can study it, or you can be exposed to it through art. Art comes in many forms, obviously – paintings, songs, dances, poems, comics, films, books – and one of art’s purposes is to show what is or what could be. Life and art reflect each other, be it reflecting our reality or our dreams, and humans cannot help but create art in part because of this need to understand and express our interpretations of the worlds within and around us. We want to understand, and we want to be understood.
I’ve always wanted to be able to reflect truth in what I write, even if the truth is only mine. Knowing how powerful fear can be, I would much rather introduce truths in a non-confrontational way. This allows a person to absorb it at their own pace rather than be smacked in the face with it with no way to get away and breathe. For as long as I can remember, I thought that perhaps the way I would do this would be by writing. I can manipulate words far better than any paintbrush, and my text has the potential to last much longer than whatever poor melodies or choreography I may produce.
I am also driven by a sense of obligation. What is the point in creating something if it cannot help anyone? I can inspire joy and comfort, yes, and both things are needed in order to rejuvenate those fighting the good fight, but I’m not sure if I’m satisfied simply healing when I may have a weapon I can harness. I’d like to strike back at these conflicts while I can. I am extremely lucky and have so many privileges that I don’t deserve. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t try to use this luck to help others who haven’t had as much? Not the kind of person I want to be, that’s for certain.
If you write long enough, you’ll discover that stories can run away with you. Some people have the ability to make an outline and stick to it, but I am one of those that can only draft the loosest of outlines because I know my characters might look at my plan, say, “Fuck that noise”, and do something else completely different. I can plan and fiddle all I want, but oftentimes I simply need to sit and let an idea simmer and wait for the story to tell me what it wants to do. This makes it difficult to be sure I am telling the stories that need to be told.
And what stories need to be told? There are hundreds, thousands, millions, billions – trillions? I wouldn’t be surprised. Every person on this earth has lived a story, however long or short. So many have been ignored for far too long, and I have this deep desire to help these stories come to light. But how do I do this? And which do I tell? Which am I allowed to tell?
My big, individually-written story at the moment is a war story. (A Harry Potter fanfiction, of course, because that’s my thing at the moment, but written in a way that should be easily accessible for anyone who hasn’t read Harry Potter before.) It takes place in a fake world filled with fake European-inspired countries and is based on the politics and warfare of World War I, specifically the Western front, only there’s a ton of magic mixed in. Think Gaslamp Fantasy. It discusses quite a few important things, I think: the horror of warfare, the disillusionment that comes with learning of the greed and carelessness of irresponsible authority, the loss of innocence, and the tragedy of wasted youth, among other things. WWI is a war we don’t study much in the States, and perhaps I can see why: from an Infantryman’s point of view, the war was pointless. They ordered you to die for nothing. Why teach those stories to the children of a country that is so obsessed with military victory?
In any case, while I am very dedicated to this story, I do wonder if I’m spending my time on the right story. The main character is Remus Lupin, a white, cisgendered, able-bodied young man. Should I really be writing about him, when there are so many other demographics that never get to see themselves as the protagonist? Sure, he is poor and orphaned; he is bisexual, which he has never really admitted to himself; and due to past trauma he has locked away his magic and his potential, which has caused a number of issues for him. He is not 100% your traditional white male protagonist (maybe like, 85%? I dunno, I made that number up), but he is still one, and this concerns me. But this story was born of a Wolfstar (Remus/Sirius) fanfiction fest, and at its heart, it is a story about how Remus’s relationship with Sirius changes both of them and the people around them as well. While knowing about Harry Potter isn’t needed to read the story, it is still heavily inspired by the Marauders era and the events of the First Wizarding War. I could change the characters, sure, but it’s no longer the same story.
I am trying to flesh out side characters more and have taken liberties with historical accuracy: women are allowed in my trenches, and so we have, among others, Lily Evans the Medic, Marlene McKinnon the Witch, and Angelica the Sniper (Angelica has no surname at the moment, but Angelica is meant to be Angelina Johnson’s aunt, a character I created because she popped up and I thought she’d be brilliant). I am trying my best to make sure not everyone is white, so while every red-headed Weasley and Prewett that crops up will obviously be pale, James Potter is described as appearing (to us) southeast Asian; I am, as I said earlier, including Angelina Johnson’s made up extended family; Kinglsey Shacklebolt is given a position of authority; and I am introducing other made up extended family members, including the Patil twins’ mother and aunt, and one or both of Cho Chang’s parents. Should the Granger family pop up, they will be described as black, as well. And in terms of sexualities, I’ve obviously got our bisexual Remus up there, and at the moment Angelica’s telling me she’s a lesbian, so there’s something of variety here, I suppose.
I include this diversity because I want it there and it brings me joy to flesh out otherwise ignored side characters, but I also wonder: is it enough? Am I thinking too hard about this? Am I trying FAR too hard to make this story represent everything I want it to? Should I be telling another story, or using this as the practice I need so that later I can tell other, more important stories with more important truths? Or is this story more important than I give it credit for? OR is it not important AT ALL and I just need to get over myself and either a) have fun with it, or b) drop it altogether? I am definitely suspecting it’s not important at all, but then, what is the point?
People always say to write for yourself, not your audience, but I feel a sense of responsibility. I’m not currently doing anything to better the world around me in any way; why can’t I use this? I’m not trying to make art, I’m trying to practice a craft, and I know that there is literally only so much fanfiction can do, but still. I want to fight, and my best weapons are my words. I want my words to matter.
How does one know which ones do?
Title and excerpt quoted from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton