Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm A Green Lantern and So Are You

Sorry, I couldn't find a photo from the movie that wasn't copyrighted all to heck and back.

Last year at my NaNo chapter, the theme was Green Lantern. I, being an X-Men girl, was totally clueless. WTH? What is a Green Lantern and why would I want to be one? I've probably already turned people off by even bringing up comic books er, graphic novels. Bear with me. If you're like me, you're thinking what does that even have to do with real writing? Yeah, well, lots of famous authors are doing it (I'm looking at you Janet Evonovich).

I'm not doing it. Oh, ha ha ha, what a good laugh. Back to the point. Why are we (writers) like Green Lanterns? GL is not my thang. I'm still an X-Men girl, but I sat down last night to watch the new GL movie, prepared to be amazed by the goofiness of it (I will debate you all day about why the X-Men are cooler, minus the last movie that came out, because I can tear that one apart in a paragraph). I only watched it because A) it was free and B) it has Ryan Reynolds, so you know it's going to be funny at the very least. Yes, I'd seen it at the cheapy theater and thought it was okay (do I need to mention it's no X-men?)

I don't know about you, but I'm not putting on a green spandex body suit any time soon. Oh, the horror. But I think we can still take a lesson away from GL, provided they didn't copyright the lessons (and they'll let us wear baggy green shirts and blue jeans). Let's discuss the things I learned from watching a movie.

#1) To be a GL, you have to be fearless. 
To be a writer, you have to be fearless. Actually, you don't have to be fearless. You just have to be able to overcome your fear. From the moment you make up your mind to sit down in front of a computer or notepad, ideas whirling around in the giant universe that is your imagination, you must chuck aside your sensitivity and be unafraid. Unafraid of learning new things like formats, grammar, genres, exposing your writing to others, anything that has to do with writing. I'm going to tout the critique partner/writing group things too--let other people read your work and read others' work as well, because that's how you learn. When you've learned and conquered your fears, you may be ready to submit to agents or publishers. Don't be afraid to hit 'send' because it's the only way to stomp out fear.

#2) You have to be willing to defend your planet.
You have to be willing to defend your work--but don't forget that you're going to have to bend to the rules too. Your work isn't perfect (well, maybe it is, mine certainly isn't). There's always room for improvement and you have build your writer muscles and stretch until the work is as close to perfect as it will get. Then, when you get slapped in the face by rejection (see #1), you may come to realize that that agent/editor wasn't right for you. Revise if necessary, repeat the last part of #1.

#3) You have the power of will at your... well, willpower.
Do you know what a great thing that is? Of course you do. That's what you shape worlds out of. That's what you build characters from. That's how you write 'THE END' when you reach your word count goal. Anything you can think of and any way you want to describe it can become a world for someone else on paper (or electronically as the case may be). When you say, "I can't" to those long, horrible edits, that's a lie that fear tells you. Because you can! When you say, "I can't finish this book" that's fear telling you what a loser you are for trying. But you can! When you've been slapped in the face by a rejection (or a hundred rejections) and you say, "I can't do this anymore", you can. Because if you can't, you might as well pack it in now and spend the rest of your life wondering, what might have happened if I did?


#4) Fear will destroy you. If you let it.
Hey, you look familiar.
Pretty sure you were
living in my head.
We all do it. We let little yellow threads of fear weave through the squishy fluid that separates our eardrums from our brains. They tangle around our confidence like barbed wire and just like a poor animal trapped in that wire, they squeeze and poke and fill us with doubt. The more the barbed wire hurts, the more the animal struggles. Until death comes. Kind of graphic, yes, but it's true. If you sit down, look at your work and think, this is the worst story ever written, then you're already in the clutches of fear. But sometimes, a kind cowboy comes along with a pair of wire cutters and snips the wire away, freeing the trapped beast. Again, let me point out where some support comes in handy. Sometimes you need someone to grab your bootstraps and haul your ass up. Like the quote from Firefly "The Message" says, "When you can't run, you crawl. And when you can't crawl, you find someone to carry you."

#5) Good always wins.
I didn't learn this from GL. I learned it from almost every movie I've ever watched. Every book I've ever read. Every person just like me who ever won. I learned it from my writing friends who are, or at some point were, where I am. I learned it from my family, who still love me at the end of the day even when I'm totally whacked out with frustration. I learned it from my characters, who beat impossible odds. Good always wins, but it might take some time to get there.

I'm a Green Lantern. And so are you.

8 comments:

  1. I'M A GREEN LANTERN! I'M A GREEN LANTERN. I'M A GREEN LANTERN.
    I'm going to keep repeating this until I believe I'm a green Lantern too.
    Fear is my worst enemy--even more so than spiders, and spiders and I are pretty deep enemies. But without a doubt, fear trumps the spider.
    I need more confidence, or at least I need to learn how to fake it until I make it.
    Great post with awesome drawings!

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  2. Me too, Brenda. Fake it until I make it, that is. I have my ups and downs. The last two rejects I got almost killed me (seriously, I was checking my e-mail on my phone and almost started bawling inside a automotive parts store when I got one of them), but then after it kind of sinks in, it doesn't hurt so bad. Especially when you have other people to talk to about it and they relay their stories. We're not alone, which is a very good thing.

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  3. You are so right. Writing is scary stuff and yet in order to get better we have to face the fear and let other writers read our work. I write chapters then decide they're crap and re-write them again. And again. Thank God I have you guys.

    AnneN

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  4. I know, Anne. Networking with other writers is the best thing I've ever done for myself.

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  5. I'm trying, I'm trying, but that laser thingy doesn't make me write as fast as it should. True GL power should let me zip out words like, well, magic :)
    Good Post!!

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  6. Awesome post!

    I'm not a fan of graphic novels. I can't get into them, but you have some terific points. Good ones to keep in mind.

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  7. I WANT to be a Green Lantern-----minus the Spandex, of course. I'm getting better, thanks to all my wonderful author friends that bouy my confidence. Good points in your post--I think you're closing in on the "super-hero mode." :-)

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