I want to talk about the time we live in today; how the literary giants that inspired generations are a double edged sword.
This idea is hard to convey because I will be contradicting and amending statements left and right. I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind for quite some time but never knew how exactly to approach it. After attending the third annual Celebration of Harry Potter here at Universal Studios, Orlando in January, I think I’ve figured it out.
Let me begin by making it clear at how grateful I am for the people who have influenced my life–the largest contributor to my ambition is Jo Rowling. Harry Potter’s story showed me how to divert my imagination into doing something that could enact real change, leave a real legacy for my family name in our civilization. For a long time I explored different options that required the use of my imagination. None of them, consequently, gave me the rush of possibility writing does. I am among the many who will pay homage to Jo for lighting the way for us. However, she is not the only one.
Tolkien, King, Paolini, Riordan, Brown, and Martin are just the introduction to the list of players who contributed and continue to contribute to my pursuit to publication and reaching people. Others include the “little people” as they would say. They are the ones I interact with most; they will be the unsung heroes if I manage to rise to publication. Whatever the case, they, my friends, are the ones who teach me things about story, even when they don’t know it. Actually, it was when talking with one of my friends at the Celebration that gave me the courage to admit what I had trepidation to do so before.
I confessed my despair about the prospects of any no-name writer getting heard, getting published in an age when giants like Jo dominate our lives like a great neon sign. But just as a student becomes confident in their own skin, they begin to outgrow their “masters.“ As a result, I had viewed her enormous success as a bit of a hurdle, quite a hurdle. I use the past tense because I recognize how silly my line of rational was.
I thought her success was a hurdle because I asked myself how are we as artists, the product of her example, were supposed to make our own mark if we live in such a great shadow? I have the goal to create the kind of community around my stories that Jo did with Harry. I would do it for some self-satisfaction yes; it would satiate my ambition to not be just another page in my family history but instead a chapter or section. I’m not above admitting a part of me wants it for self-motivated reasons. But I want it too to create a place for people to go when they feel they don’t belong anywhere else. That’s why I cling to Potter. I know her stories will still be around when new youths are seeking a place (they will always be), but I would want mine to be there too as something unheard of. So isn’t it maddening to love something, owe so much, and at the same time fear there’s no hope for your own place on the shelf because of them?
I’ve concluded that this fear of being overlooked will never go away. As mortals, it’s in our nature to have some degree of uncertainty when it comes to our impermanence and relative place in the cosmos. This limitation, however, can be overcome. If history is any indication, it can and has happened before. The requirements are persistence and the need (not want) to perform one’s craft as a part of your livelihood, instead of as a pass-time. It should be a priority. We may live in the age of giants. That does not mean there will come a time when a new breed will take their place. In the end, the only enemy to our ambition is yourself. If we fail, then at least we can say we tried.