We Need a Hero Who Looks Like Us

It began in 1977. Somebody…God, the Goddess, whoever…said, “Thou shalt,” and I did. Thirty-seven years later, and finally, I can say, “It’s done.”

I wrote a story about a girl with a mythical destiny. Along the way I learned all sorts of stuff—like, there is a male model of myth. Male heroes fight their way out of things, killing a lot of people along the way and making a huge mess which someone has to clean up, and you know who, right? Not that Lisen doesn’t fight; she does. Not that Lisen doesn’t kill; she has. But after every step I went through to get here (write a book, check; write more books, check; rewrite the first book, done; self-publish, start all over again, self-publish again, start all over again, all check; self-publish all three books for real in the end, check) I realized that something had to give.

Back in 2005 when Revenge of the Sith was released, a short documentary appeared on the extras DVD. It was called “The Chosen One.” In it George Lucas explained how Anakin Skywalker was, indeed, the Chosen One of the Jedi prophecy. As he showed us why this worked (something I already understood), he spoke of how Anakin/now Darth Vader lost some of his power with the Force when he was maimed to the point of near-death.

Wait a minute, whoa, that’s not how I see it. Power comes from within, not from the physical body.

Snap.

That’s it. Who came up with these myths—the ones on which we base all our fantasies and life-changing stories? They may come from myths from the times of matriarchy, but they’ve been redressed and retold for the profit of men so many times that they now follow the very-much-physical male model.

Snap.

So I asked myself, “Self, how can I change this? What must I do to take my female protagonist without female baggage from the point of being the ignorant-young-person-with-no-idea-who-he/she-is and turn her into the hero of a myth based on the power-from-within female model?”

Oh, and then there was this other thing. A reviewer of book 2 (Tainted) said, “In leaving her parents and childhood on Earth behind, Lisen has been forced to rise to the occasion and prepare herself to become the adult her empire requires. This transition parallels the mental and physical changes of puberty, and thus might especially appeal to the young adult reader.” – See more at: IndieReader.com.

Well, that was an assignment I hadn’t anticipated. I was the kid who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, replied, “Peter Pan.” And I was going to have to make growing up look like a good thing? I sat back, considered where Lisen was going to end up at the end of the story. Did it play up the perks of adulthood, you know, the good stuff? What good stuff you ask? Oh, let’s see, responsibility, freedom that isn’t freedom, life choices that wring your heart. Yeah, that sort of thing.

Okay, so Lisen ends up…oh, wait, I can’t give that away. Not now, not ever. You have to read the books. But I looked at the ending, and here’s what I decided. There’s resolution to the turmoil she suffered throughout the books. Life ain’t perfect, but she’s able to look at what she’s been through with calm acceptance. And there are rewards for her hard work and commitment. Which is the way life is when you’re a grownup, if you accept being a grownup.

So, let’s see, given the mission of telling a story, with a female hero in search of a metaphorical grail, with an alteration of the traditional male-dominated paradigm of myth and with an ending that makes becoming an adult attractive, did I succeed? Only time will tell, but if you’re interested, read Fractured and Tainted, the first two books of Lisen of Solsta which are free until 2/26/2015, and then check out Blooded, the final volume.

Hello Thursday (observations of a day)

What do you have in store for me today? I woke up in my usually usual sad-ass state of mind, so just about anything that happens after that has got to be an improvement.

Here’s what I should do today: Vacuum, laundry, scrub a couple of small floors, exercise, plan excellent meals with only healthy ingredients, get out in the sunshine, clean up my porch. And write oodles of pages on my new WIP.

Here what I will do: Write a page or two, maybe. Oh, and submit another blog post. Yeah, this one. Here.

What is it about life that stymies me? I look out the window of my office in my apartment, and I can see the busy street of a very small suburban town on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I wouldn’t exactly call it bustling. The Village of Claremont and its multitude of colleges is not a bustling kind of place. More like a tortoise than a hare. Which is to say that things do happen here, just not very quickly.

Back to life. And Thursdays. Why is Thursday important? I don’t know. Just happens to be the day we’re in at the moment. And I have promised myself to write a couple of blog posts a week. To keep the energy flowing. I am a writer, after all.

Across the street, it’s gardening day at the Claremont Manor. The lawn mowers fill the air with the never-ending hum of grass cutting. Now “Claremont Manor” sounds ritzy, doesn’t it? It’s a retirement community, and an expensive one at that. Takes up a long city block, north and south, east and west. Its visitors include at least two ambulances a day and their accompanying fire department vehicles—small two-person truck and a ladder truck, because heaven knows you might have to climb up to the second floor, and finding the stairway blocked, what do you do? Call in the ladder!  Which brings up a question which has bothered me for some time now. Why do they send a minimum of three vehicles and six or seven personnel to a trip-and-fall incident?

Well, hopefully I’ve primed the pump now. Time to get back to the book eking its way slowly out of my soul. Perhaps next time we meet, I’ll wax philosophical. Or I will offer sage advice on the writing of novels. Or maybe I’ll just ramble on like I did this time.

Feedback from the Masses

Must keep the blog going. That’s what they say. If you want to keep your platform steady, the blog is the way to do it. Well, god knows, I can’t tell my platform from my brand from a hole in the ground, but I’ll keep the blog active.

Next, I must come up with a topic. Shoot. What the heck do I write about? About the cat I had to euthanize last week? (No, too sad, and I’d really rather not go there.) About how my new work in progress is moving with starts and stops? (Probably not since I want to inspire people, not leave them wondering if a writer’s life is all that great.) Oh, I know.

Reviews.

First, my books are slow in picking up readers and reviews. Because of that platform thing, you know—my blog (and my Facebook page and Twitter and Google+ and, oh lordie, I can’t seem to do any of this right). Stop it, Hart. Back to topic.

Reviews.

Try again.

First, I appreciate every single review from readers. I feel especially moved by the reviews from strangers—you know, the people who have no reason whatsoever to like your book but they do anyway. (Which has been the case for me so far. Although I am waiting for that 1 star review that’ll kill me but say unequivocally that I’ve arrived.)

Reviews are the recognition spot, the point where the writer discovers whether or not they’ve gotten the story across. Did you get it? Because I really worked hard to set this, that and the other thing up so you—the reader—would say “ah” at the denouement. (And by the way, the denouement—or as I prefer to call it, the “punch line”—should be short and sweet. As a writer, I have to hit it and run.)

So did you say “ah”? Oh, good, you did.

Then, there are those who see my Lisen of Solsta trilogy as pure fantasy and adventure. That’s a tad disappointing, but maybe their subconscious hasn’t finished working it out. I’ll give them some time. And if they enjoyed my world building and the excitement of the chase to the end, then I’ve still achieved something.

Yes, reviews, like it or not, are a book’s barometer. They tell the writer whether or not she’s succeeded. So far, my reviews have told me everything and nothing about my achievement, but, as I said above, I do appreciate every review some reader takes the time to write. Because a review means I’ve touched something. (Or, maybe it means they’ve got their own egos in the mix. Either way, it’s good to hear back from people who otherwise would remain silent in their response.)

Thank you, Amazon and other venues, for opening the review process up to everyone.