Friday, October 17, 2014

Sometimes You Don't Make Any Sense (Why Must You Be So Brave?)

I write brave characters.
One of the classic examples of a fearer-turned-fearless
is Bilbo Baggins.
You do too, and you know it.
Even if they start out timid, they're going to end up brave.
Because that's just how we write. We want our characters to face insurmountable odds and overcome them. We want to see them blossom into daring, dashing fighters, ready to risk their lives for anything they believe is good. We cheer for them as they slay their dragons, or realize adventures aren't quite so bad, or engage in a clever riddle-game we never thought they could do. We laugh at their opposition who still underestimate them. We close the book and sigh with satisfaction, knowing that our favorite character is a better person after their adventure and that we're a better person for having been able to experience it with them.

A confession. This blog is "Confessions of a Teenage Writer", is it not?
Well here's a big one.
Ahahahaha NO.
I am not brave.
Yes, I can hear your collective gasp of shock.
I, Elizabeth Lucy Morgan, am not brave. At least, not brave about physical things.
In fact, one might count me as timid. I know most of my friends do.
Whenever we walk in the woods, I fret and worry over spiders and any manner of unfriendly green plant. My pain tolerance is about -0.5. I'm afraid of heights and have vertigo. I hate lizards and am uneasy around large dogs.
I am a classically defined wimp.

However, I write these massively brave characters, characters who would willingly suffer pain or even die for their convictions. I sit around and write huge pep talks for them, about why they should stand up and how strong I know they can be. Show me a lizard, and watch me run screaming for the door.

How do I ever write bravery scenes? Scenes when it's fear versus faith, with everything on the line? How do I make this believable when I have very little experience with "fight" and much more with "flight"?

I take the moments I was brave.
For instance, I went to a summer camp this year with my youth group.
And I was very brave.
It was a wilderness camp. In the mornings, we would listen to Bible teaching and in the afternoon we'd do various, epic activities. The first day I and a daredevil friend of mine went river tubing on the lovely (and freezing cold) Natahala river. It was really fun, and actually rather tame.
The next day was our on-site day. At this camp, they have several activities that require much bravery. Some I did not do, but some I did. They had a zipline, which was really no big deal. Half my youth group was betting I would sit down and push off the platform, but, to their surprise, I jumped. It was brilliant.
Then I did the infamous Three Man Swing.
It is a massive swing, where you are pulled back sixty feet in the air and then dropped and allowed to swing.
It was the supidest thing I've ever done in my life, and I've done some really stupid stuff. But I did it. I halfway hated it, but I still did it. And guess what? I'll probably do it again.
The next day we went canoeing and I ended up doing a rope swing where you would climb up a tree and swing off. My sister bet me I wouldn't, but I did.
The last day was white water rafting. These weren't any crazy rapids, just about Class 2 (I think). My whole youth group went. We did all the fun stuff, like pulling one another out of the rafts and landing in the water that was so cold you couldn't breathe and trying to catch leaves in our mouths. Sounds like a great time, right?
Kind of a bad angle for a picture. This was a good 10-20
foot drop.

Then there was the rock.
Picnic rock, to be exact.
The rock where anyone who didn't value their lives would jump off into the STILL FREEZING COLD water and then swim for their lives toward the rocky shore.
I wasn't going to do it.
But I was sleep deprived and my friends wanted me to and I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn't a Bilbo Baggins pre-adventure. I wanted to be brave.
So I walked up the rock. Camp counselors lined the sides, cheering or whatever. My heart was pounding too loudly to care. I silenced all my better judgement, and that one, loud, little tiny daredevil voice in my head that spent most of it's time asleep was the only thing I was listening to. As I jumped off the edge, one of the counselors pushed me (thank you, whoever you were) and I hit the water with the top of my left leg. As I went under, my whole body screamed at me. COLD. I surfaced, hyperventilating and unable to catch my breath. I swam for the side as fast as my little legs could take me and climbed up the bank.
It scared me.
So you know what?
I did it again.

You know, maybe I'm not that wimpy after all. I spent a whole week doing things no one thought I could do, things I didn't think I could do. Maybe I can relate to my characters. Maybe this is my little victory, my little adventure, that will kick off a much bigger one.
Maybe I am a hero, in my own funny sort of way.
Maybe I am brave.
"It never ceases to amaze me, the courage of Hobbits."
And the courage inside myself.