Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Yins and the Yangs

Hello Reader.  So this past weekend I had the time of my life.  What did I do?  Not important (I was at a retreat in Hermosa Beach).  What happened there?  Important because of its consequences.  For a long time I thought of where Briok would go in his development.  I knew the end, but I didn't know what it would mean.  How would he have grown and changed?  What exactly would he have grown into at the end of his story?  I'm not talking about the end of this book that I've written, or the end of the volume of which it is a part.  I'm talking about the very end of the story, when Briok can no longer be written about.  What kind of man would he be?  Would he even be alive at the end of it all?

The alive part I can't divulge.  It's a rather appealing idea, killing off my character.  That way, no one can write about him!  Oh how selfishness does feel good!  Anyways, Briok's death or survival at the end of the planned three volumes is of little consequence because what really matters is whether or not he has changed from the beginning to the end.  I had a vague idea: he'd be more mature.  Screw me for even attempting to write a character with such an ambiguous premise. 

Over the weekend however I had a couple of conversations that were...well, life-changing is an inappropriate word however good it may sound.  I mean, my life isn't over yet right?  Can't count my chickens before they hatch.  But these conversations were revelatory.  And they both came from women.  I'll post on another day about women in my story.  For now, let's focus in on how Briok's going to be a man.

Black and white are two opposites on the moral spectrum that do exist.  Yet in between both is a swath of gray that is far more prevalent.  Most people will acknowledge this, especially in a post-9/11 world where our enemies can no longer be entirely vilified.  We realize now that there CAN be a terrified, little boy amidst the sea of terrifying, suicide bombers.  But people, in general, do not easily handle this.  It's far easier to have an "us vs. them" mentality.

Herein comes our young hero, not yet the man he is asked to be, not yet ready to even attempt scaling the Everest of expectations rising high above him.  Thrust into a moral continuity most grown men are unable to comprehend, he must find that balance so many others have not.  He must accept the gray.  For the course of three volumes he attempts to reconcile the morals and values he's been given with the realities of a world that doesn't give a damn about his idealized principles. 

Verily this is not the traditional fantasy epic, because most of the time you have a child thrust into a vast war that forces him to accept his destiny.  Ugh, what does that mean?  Accept destiny?  Why?  Accept the gray, on the other hand...well, you have to.  Otherwise you'll go crazy.  You'll build these illusions about people and things that will come crashing down with all the force of a raging bull in a room full of mirrors.  You won't be able to function normally.

Where did this all come from?  Yes, my life.  For a long time I've had trouble dealing with the little nuances in a person's character that make them less than perfect.  I built up illusions that went so far as to idolize a person, and when they shatter my heart doesn't just break.  It aches for months.  These past few months have been transformative in a way though.  I've allowed myself far more leeway in accepting others and their flaws.  In fact, I've forced myself to realize that a person is nothing without them.  Life itself is flawed, and if I'm going to enjoy it I've got to take the good with the bad.  Because the essence of friendship, love, the relationship between me and this dunya (an Arabic word of enormous importance that generally means a plane of existence) is not based on how perfect someone or something is.  It's based on how well balanced the yins and the yangs are. 

Briok needs to find that balance, and he needs to see that balance in others.  When he does that, then can he sit beneath a sprawling oak overlooking creation and let the silver clouds of joy wash over him.  My question to you, the reader, is this: how would you have liked some of your favorite characters in books or movies to have ended up?  Oh, and why?  Until next time then.


  1. k, so at first I couldnt think of an answer to your questions, I was too wrapped up in your talk of yin and yang/ people and their flaws.....

    but to answer your question....I think it depends on what you as an author want the relationship with the reader to be. Take Harry Potter for example (if thats valid). After 7 books, countless hours reading and watching movies, and what seems to be most of the second decade of my life, I felt personally connected to Harry. I watched him grow, was a part of his adventures....like a friend. Harry was a friend I carried in my pocket and joined whenever I cracked the book open.

    With that said, I didn't want him to die (thank God he didn't). It would have been like losing a friend instead of a character. Perhaps, it would have been easier to let him die if it wasn't such a long series.

    So initially I wouldn't want Harry to die. But like i said earlier, it depends on what you want the reader to see the character as. If Harry would have died, I feel that Harry would have taken on a different persona in my mind. He would no longer be my pocket friend, he would truly be a hero. Not that he's not a hero, but he's still alive, so i dont think its as dramatic of an ending as it could have been. It seems like death, in a movie or book is a way to secure a character as a hero and nothing else. Death sort of cuts off any other ties; I mean if Harry (a friend) is dead, I have to keep living...can't mourn his death forever. So in dying, Harry would have been put on a pedestal (in my mind), as some glorious hero who died for a cause, and left all others behind on a mortal world made better by his sacrifice.

    So in ending, I guess what Im trying to say is that the death of a character can change the way the reader feels about them. I mean, Harry is a hero no matter what, but had he died, it would have catapulted him to a higher level of hero than he already is. I dont know if this makes any sense...kinda just through some ideas out there...

  2. Anonymous1:40 AM

    Just have a cop out ending where it goes...

    "And then Briok woke up and went to his LS2 class"