The other night I sat down with my mom for dinner and popped in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The day before Netflix had updated their playlist and had added Tim Burton’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Initially I had hated the movie, and so I decided to give it another go. Forty five minutes into the movie, I really pushed myself to watch more then ten minutes, I realized that it was true I didn’t like this movie.
As I popped the “Original” movie in I told my mom that I couldn’t take it any longer I had to watch this version. Instantly I fell in love with the movie again. Where the Tim Burton movie, in my opinion, had stunted the magic, the original let flourish. It was at the moment that the song I Got A Golden Ticket was playing that I realized I wasn’t writing the type of stories I wanted to. This wasn’t the first time I had thought of this. Each time the thought creeped into my head I would sit down and reorganize the stories I was working on. The result would be a cluster of ideas that didn’t seem to work, then I would revert back to the way it was. I would tell myself that the story would be better for readers that way. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the version I was working on, it just wasn’t what I initially wanted out of a story.
The one place that I felt stories became what I wanted them to become was when I told oral stories in college. So, I went to the drawing board again and talked to my friend Sean about my writing. I told him how I was feeling. He had heard this many times before, but this time I told him I wanted to write a story that I could be obsessed with. A story that I could be passionate about. I wanted to wake up in the morning and instantly think about it.
His advice was to read a series of articles. I initially thought this was funny because Sean wasn’t one to read, and yet he sends me something to read as advice. At the moment, I wasn’t in the mood to read and so asked him to just summarize. He insisted I read. Reluctantly, I read the first article.
Still to this moment I have not read all the articles that my friend sent me, but the first one has changed my perspective enough. The one thing the article said was when was the last time you wrote something you were passionate about? The quick answer for me was not for a while, because truth be told I hadn’t written much at all. My dream since sixth grade was to be a author. I’ve loved to read since I was little. It wasn’t until the Harry Potter series that I decided that I really wanted to be a writer. Regardless of the fact that I was terrible at grammar (which, is probably obvious just in this blog XD!) I wanted to do it. So, I set out to reach my goals. It was never a question from that day forward what I wanted to do with my life. Yet, as I tried to come up with a series that would match what I always loved about books and even movies it never seemed to work out. Then, when I would come up with a idea it seemed the magic was always sucked away.
The phrase from the article made me think…What am I passionate about? I then set to work and began formulating a list of things I was passionate about. I wrote what kind of books I like and what kind of books I don’t like. I wrote down specific things I was passionate about, and I saw why my book ideas weren’t taking flight. My ideas were good, but I had sucked out all the magic just as I thought. I also realized I was writing too much for other people. This part might seem obvious, but it’s actually a really easy trap to fall into.
One story I heard at the Folk and Lore event I went to was about one guy who worked hard on a project for school in hopes that his teacher would recognize his work. The result was that he had worked so hard only to fail and the teacher praised someone else. This is the exact trap I had fallen into. I became so focused on making my dreams come true. I worried about what would be published, not wanting to sabotage my changes at being able to write for a living. This caused me to always change my stories to what I thought publishers would like and what I thought readers would like. The result was that I never wrote anything. The days would pass and I wasn’t working towards my dreams anymore, and I fell into a trap of thinking I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I realized I was sabotaging my dream.
After I made my list I then began to rethink some of the stories I was working on trying to find a way to bring back the passion. I wanted to bring back the magic that made me want to write. Then it hit me! I figured out how to change one of the stories. Almost instantly the story took off in a new direction. I texted Sean and he met me at work where we discussed the new ideas and tested out some other ideas. Everything seemed to be going well. I went home and wrote the prologue, and while it wasn’t perfect the ideas kept following. As the story developed in my head I kept telling myself to write what I’m passionate about and focus on that. The list made it easy to think of these things, and so the entire story was blooming in my head, and this time not focused on what other people would like, but on what I would like. If I could create a story that would make me laugh and cry, a story that I can enjoy, then that would make my job as a writer fun and magical. Then if by chance that story made my readers laugh and cry then that’s what will make me become a successful writer. But the beginning starts with me enjoying my work. As my other friend Mike said as a joke “I wouldn’t like this shit, but other people should.” While this may seem obvious and funny sometimes it’s harder to remember. Yet, I realized the type of stories I want to write and tell are those that make people believe in magic. Stories that give people hope.
This weekend my family and I went to the Lantern Fest. The festival was threatened by rain and for a bit we thought we weren’t going to be able to go due to cancelation. The stress of waiting turned into not really wanting to go. It didn’t sound exciting to sit there when it was cold, windy and could possibly start down pouring. Yet, we went and as soon as we got there the rain stopped. The sun came out and it was actually quite warm. A friend of mine got a fire pit so we joined them and sat there waiting for the sun to go down.
We roasted marshmallows, I made my friend Rachel eat mine, and enjoyed some of the booths. The s’more’s packets came with markers so that you were able to write on your lanterns. I decided since I had come up with some cool ideas, started this blog and had plans for oral storytelling that I would set a lantern up that represented my dreams. So, I wrote May My Dreams Come True in Japanese on my lantern.
As the sun began to set and the moon came out the place became dark. The only light was that of the torches and the fire pits. It was easy to get lost and lose your group huddled around the fire pit. Yet, it created a magical atmosphere that created more excitement for the lighting to begin. A band began to play and after a few songs the announcer came back on to let everyone know that the time had finally come. It was time to start lighting. Everyone jumped up and grabbed their lanterns along with the lighters that were provided. All around the sight of lanterns unfolding could be seen as the announcer told everyone how to unfold their lanterns. Each lantern was a two to three person job as they had to be held steady. Soon most people had their lanterns lit. In the rush to see all the magic begin and as most people in my group with helping with the other lanterns I stood there with mine just watching. It was like a wave of light. The dark campsite soon lit up in a brilliant gold. Tons of lanterns together suddenly lifted into the air. It was breathtaking, and extremely overwhelming. I grabbed my phone and started snapping photos, many of which came out blurry due to my excitement.
The lanterns lifted up higher into the air and soon covered the whole sky. It was like a million stars just hovering above us. The whole place was now lit up. Our first few lanterns went up, one for my dog who had passed away only a few years ago, another for my grandparents who had passed away. Then my mom began to help me with mine. I had imaged myself standing there watching my lantern fly off and really wishing that my dreams would come true this time. Yet, due to some wind the lantern kept falling in on itself. As soon as the flame was lit it would burn the paper. My lantern soon had two burn spots. The two black spots had me worried that it wasn’t going to take off. Then the rest of the lantern inflated and as my mom and I let go again to see what would happen it took off. It lifted into the air and joined the many other lanterns. As I watched it I could still see the black spots, but they made me smile, because regardless of them it was still flying high. It was just like the books I wanted to write. The story of people who had dealt with horrible things in their lives that for sure left scars, but they believed nonetheless and found their wings to fly. Charlie finding the golden ticket, Harry finding out he was a wizard, Cinderella going to the ball. My dreams might have a bit of problems taking off, but I realized that didn’t mean they couldn’t fly. The night passed but I will always remember the event and my half burnt lantern taking flight. My dreams just like my stories need to follow what I’m passionate about.