“Noal would die with honor. Once, Mat would have thought that kind of thing foolish-what good was honor if you were dead? But he had too many memories of soldiers, had spent too much time with men who fought and bled for that honor, to discredit such notions now.”- Brandon Sanderson/Robert Jordan “Towers of Midnight”
This is a sensitive subject, but one necessary as we come through memorial day. As most of us enjoy having a bit of time off of work and the impending beginning of Summer we have this holiday.
Perhaps the most important holiday.
I have quotes to bookend this little narrative to try and illustrate the pride and truth of what the holiday really means. Your Facebook will have been filled with pictures of military graveyards, or pictures of soldiers helping others, or of the Flag flowing in the wind.
But what do these symbols really mean to people who weren’t there? What does the semi-amorphous meaning of country mean?
It is nothing without brotherhood.
Men and women fight and die for their friends and family and for that kinship. The idea goes far beyond ideals and faithfulness to a country or to a flag. The true meaning of heroism comes from love and friendship. To people and to each other. This is what this holiday is really about. Honoring the men and women who gave their lives so that we might live in a better world. Our brothers and sisters (both metaphoric and blood) who have changed the world to try and save us.
People go to war for an ideal or a country. They die to protect their brothers and sisters.
That is the most honorable thing in the world.
I use words to try and give that honor back, though it falls short, it is all I have.
Thank you my brothers and sisters who have died to save me.
“God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.” -Shakespeare Henry V
Before you say anything, yes. I have read the books. I almost wish I had not at this point because who knows when GRRM will ever put out another one, but I digress. The point of this blog post isn’t to point fingers, but to point out how good the books, and by proxy, the show really are.
I don’t mean they’re good because they’re shocking. I don’t mean they’re good because the characters are cool. I mean these are just good old fashioned storytelling. With all long epics like this you begin to worry after a while, because usually authors start with a shtick, but by the time the end really needs to come together it’s to daunting to do. A perfect example of this is the Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. You have this big sweeping epic and an author who is to close to the story to feel it ending appropriately, so bringing in another talented author to complete it is necessary. GRRM seems to be doing this with Benioff and Weiss.
There are five books and five and a half seasons of the show, and now that the show has pulled ahead we are starting to see some of that storytelling come to fruition. A large problem shows that contain mysteries have, is they focus on expanding the mystery to the point it is so untenable that it becomes too loose and no longer entertaining. Game of Thrones (and the book alternative A Song of Ice and Fire), after Sunday night’s episode is seeming to be eliminating some of these issues.
We are finally getting explanations to why the characters are the way they are. We are finally getting information about the forces in the world trying to destroy it. We are finally getting some closure.
That’s what good storytelling is really all about. Anyone could be like the show Lost and come up with all these crazy ideas, but the trick to good storytelling is being able to bring them all back together in a nice cohesive bundle. Story telling is cyclical, your ending must hearken back to the beginning and pay off the events that happened that got your story started, and it appears as though GRRM did in fact have a plan, from the beginning, as to what he was going to do. That gives me hope for a good show. That gives me pride in a great book series.
And it all came with the realization of a characters name.
Marvel has brought an interesting resurgence of popularity to the movie theaters which has been lacking lately. So why are these movies so poplar? What has Marvel tapped into to bring such popularity to their movies?
Their writers are brilliant and timely. Marvel has brought hope in the form of superheroes at a time where apathy and drama are the norm.
So why is it Marvel and superheroes which dominate the market instead of something else? Because we all have a tendency towards nerddom.
The last time there was a spike in, what people would call a movie for nerds, was “The Star Wars”. This movie came about when people were distrustful of their government and life had become so much harder and, frankly, more real. You had Vietnam. You had the Civil Rights movement. You had Nixon and Goldwater. Who could you trust? What could you believe in?
Is it any wonder “The Star Wars” was later re-titled “A New Hope”? This brought a generation of people who were told that hard work could get you where you wanted to go, and to imagine a young farm boy who worked hard and was able to throw over a galactic empire as part of a rebel alliance was what brought them together. It was topical, it was timely. It was something people could hope for.
We’re in a similar time now, except the ideals of the populace are slightly skewed. Now the movie going generation is the millennials. A generation who grew up with the previous disenfranchised generation as parents. These parents wanted the best for their children and they didn’t want them getting hurt like they did, so protection became paramount. Making playgrounds safer. Making food safer. This is the generation who lived in a bubble. And what do they have to think about? What do they have to hope for? The generation who was told that if they just did what they were supposed to do, then everything would work out for them?
This is a brand new world in ever shifting priorities. Now instead of outright war, we have terrorism. We have fear of going to our work, of the movies, of going to dinner and getting killed by some crazy loon with a gun. All the sudden the life the “Star Wars” generation wanted for their kids is in jeopardy. no matter how much they do for them, there is still an outside factor making things tougher. Making life dangerous. So what do they turn to now?
Superheroes. Superheroes who would make sure that the status quo is kept. It’s no longer a plucky farm boy who people can relate to because the feeling is that there is nothing you as an individual can do. You need something more. You need something bigger to make the change. Enter the superhero.
This is the societal fantasy. This is why people who are considered nerds and the things they like are so pervasive. These types of movies are escapist and they lash out against the Kardashian reality. These things strike a chord so deep in the social consciousness that we don’t even notice it as it’s happening, but we can feel that hope in our heart, we feel that rush as these superheroes do what we want to do, to effect the change that we as a culture wish. These are the new difference makers in our culture.
There has been a lot of talk of editing lately on the social media channels and I thought I’d throw in my two cents here. The bottom line?
If you don’t edit, you’re not a writer.
Being a writer is work and the more you put into your world or your stories the more you and everyone who reads it will get out of it.
The best and most fun part of writing is coming up with the story. This is what everyone wants to do when they first start writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a poet, a genre author, or a serious literature progeny, the desire to write come from the love of creation. Your mind blossoms around ideas and, in general, the only way your mind will leave you alone is when you get those blossoming gems down on paper (or on the computer screen).
This process makes you creative, it does not make you a writer.
Editing makes you a writer. Editing is the work that needs to be put in. Writing professionally (it doesn’t matter if you make 500 or 5 Million a year, if you make money by your craft you’re a writer) is work, like it or not, and if you’re going to put your work out there, why would you not want it to be the best possible version of itself that I could be? If you were a handyman working on tile, would you want the tile crooked and mislaid? Could you be proud of that?
People edit in different ways, and editing means different things to different people, but since this is my blog, I’ll give you my process.
The first draft is an intensive and detailed outline. This outline is the creative version and generally the part I like the most. This will include dialog and notes to myself for what I want the story to contain and motivations for characters.
The second draft is what most people think of the first draft. This is the full story, with exposition and dialog and is fully fleshed out.
The third draft is the first edit. I go through and edit content. I streamline for readability, I clean up the dialog, I correct any grammar that catches my eyes, I double check my characters motivations, and ensure there are no continuity errors.
The fourth draft is the line edit.
Then there are about five more drafts where others will read it and give feedback and things will change around.
But the editing is the work. The editing is making sure that everything is perfect (lets be real nothing is ever perfect for a writer, but as close as possible). The editing is what makes the story real.
So if you don’t edit, you’re not a writer. You’re too lazy to be respectful to your reader. You’re showing them that you don’t really care about what you’ve created. You’re showing them that you don’t really care about the money or the time they’re going to spend on you.
Be a writer. Edit. Streamline. Work.