I log on to Blogger yet another day with the realization, wow, I haven’t written anything in awhile. Which, in itself, is not entirely true. I write every day. I write a lot. I write. Just not here, not for people.
And sometimes I get to that point, where all I’m doing is writing for people, writing for what I think people need to hear, not actually from my heart. Then I am reminded. People don’t want to hear what you think they need to hear.
They want to read about a real person, a genuine heart and a real life. Preferably yours because that’s where you get the most brownie points for ethos. Or it could be another’s life. But even if it’s a fictional person you read about, that fictional person better be understandable. If not? We’re all just kidding ourselves in fairy-tale escapism.
I remembered that today, because I finished a historical-fiction book whose three heroines were remarkably flawed. It was just like a refreshing splash of cold water on the face of today’s sleepy, feel-good movies. You know those movies that make you think you can change the world in two hours? Yeah. They are great. But soon after you give up thinking you can do anything because the heroes were just too unattainably perfect, too fast. This book wasn’t like that.
“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett was written from the honest perspective of the heroines, and they weren’t afraid to show the downright ugly. Their own flaws. The fear. The lying. The disrespect and sass-mouthing. You thought they were supposed to be amazingly awesome role models to look up to because they were changing their world and all. But no. They were just people. They had their ugly, just like we all do. The writer wasn’t afraid to show that.
Yet later, deep in to the story… you are given a moment to step back from the characters’ perspective of their situation, and you get surprised again. You see they really were brave. Courageous. Heroic. Just like they ought to be! But instead of seeing that in a two-hour movie, you see it in however-many days it takes you to read a 500-page book. Sounds a little monotonous. But life is more like reading a book– it’s long and emotional and difficult. Those three ladies understood that by the end. Heroes aren’t heroes from the start. Heroes don’t become heroes in two hours. They are real people with real flaws that grow in beautiful ways, in time.