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The Odd One

Luna Lovegood

My favorite characters are usually the odd ones. Just a bit off beat. They’re likely not the girl to be invited to the party, but not because they’re hated, or ugly, more likely because they were wandering in the forest, gathering mushrooms or rare moth larvae. Let me introduce you to Auri, from Patrick Rothfuss’s series – The Kingkiller Chronicles and Luna Lovegood, from J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter series.

Auri – The Kingkiller Chronicles

Auri was a young genius whose spark burned too brightly to function in what most of us call reality. Instead, she created her own reality in the tunnels under the university. Her days are spent making order of the abandoned areas in that hidden world. Her one friend is a current student, Kvothe.

Auri hopped down from the chimney and skipped over to where I stood, her hair streaming behind her. “Hello Kvothe.” She took a half-step back. “You reek.”

I smiled my best smile of the day. “Hello Auri,” I said. “You smell like a pretty young girl.”

“I do,” she agreed happily.

She stepped sideways a little, then forward again, moving lightly on the balls of her bare feet. “What did you bring me?” she asked.

“What did you bring me?” I countered.

She grinned. “I have an apple that thinks it is a pear,” she said, holding it up. “And a bun that thinks it is a cat. And a lettuce that thinks it is a lettuce.”

“It’s a clever lettuce then.”

“Hardly,” she said with a delicate snort. “Why would anything clever think it was a lettuce?”

“Even if it is a lettuce?” I asked.

“Especially then,” she said. “Bad enough to be a lettuce. How awful to think you are a lettuce too.” She shook her head sadly, her hair following the motion as if she were underwater.

Luna Lovegood – Harry Potter series

At first, you dismiss Luna, especially when she’s talking about mysterious things that go bump in the night that steal shoes. But, she also knows things that no one else seems to know. Besides, just listening to her talk is enchanting enough for me, whether she speaks by book or by movie.

The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down. – From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head. He jumped out from under it. “Good thinking,” said Luna very seriously. “It’s often infested with nargles.”

Harry Potter: [sees that Luna is barefoot] Aren’t your feet cold?

Luna Lovegood: A bit. But all my shoes have mysteriously disappeared. I suspect the Nargles are behind it. – from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Wannabes and Discouragement

The problem with critiquing is in the measuring. When is it good? When has it passed good and into great? How do you know you’re improving? Enough? If I apply more effort will it help or hurt? With physical exertion, you know almost immediately when you’ve gone too far. Pain. Sharp. Sudden. Stop. That’s your feedback.

The only true measure of whether a piece of writing is any good is the impact it has on its intended audience.

Did it engage them? Did it move them? Did it change them?

All other questions are irrelevant.

Of course, this creates a problem for serious writers like you who want to hone their skills. Because by the time you publish your work and learn your audience’s reaction, it’s too late to make any changes.

And if your writing isn’t connecting with your audience, the most common reaction is no reaction at all:

  • No comments on your latest blog post.
  • No emails praising (or damning) your bold manifesto.
  • No reviews of your latest Kindle novel.

So where does that leave you? How do you get good? How do you know if it’s even possible? – 3 Habits Separate Good Writers Tragic Wannabes

The problem I have with the above excerpt, is the assumption that if you are really good, you’ll get noticed. And tons of accolades. But I have read poems and novels that are pieces of crap and there are plenty of comments. Has anyone out there read 50 Shades of Gray? It’s becoming a movie. The story line is cheesy and it was originally intended as a Twilight fan fiction. The media attention this book received was unreal, but it remains a poorly written book (not good, not great)

No comments

Which brings me to my point, I’ve read a lot of great, exceptional, and life changing blogs that I never comment on. Some have no obvious place for comments, see Seth’s blog And even some that do see receive only a few comments at best. Mostly (not always) the blogs I see with comments are encouraging a new writer to continue writing or comments shooting down what the blogger stated. You can’t write for comments and prizes. You write because it feels good, just as in running. I write because I must write. I must express myself. I need my voice heard. I feel like this lady: You Don’t Have to be Napoleon to Change the World.

It’s possible I took this article in the wrong light. I admit I can be a bit touchy sometimes, but if you don’t meet the criteria in his bullet list does that make you a wannabe? Or maybe it’s just my definition of Wannabe.  You tell me, am I being touchy, or is it insulting?

 

Stories We Tell

I’ve talked about stories before. It’s probably one of my top 5 issues. Mostly because it goes by daily and we don’t notice its influence. We know about forgiveness. Change this one thing in your mind and so many other things fall into their perfect places. Probably 80% of us are on some type of self-improvement kick, but our story goes unnoticed.

Maybe you have no idea what I am talking about. Okay, ground rules.

  • This is non judgmental. No story is wrong. And no story is right. Mine is just mine. Not superior or inferior.
  • We don’t always know who gave us our story, but we can notice that it’s there.

  • It’s changeable if we decide to change it.
  • Only we can change our story.

  • We all have a story playing in the back of our minds. Some script we rule our lives by.

Who is the bad guy to my good guy? What is my role in life? Notice the next time you’re in a room with a group of people. We all have our drink in hand or we’re standing around our cubicles. If someone is talking, someone is telling their story. What does their tale say about them as a person or community? What does it say about their belief in right and wrong? I’m really hesitant here to say much because I don’t want people to clam up around me. Maybe if I generalize, people won’t realize how much I listen to them. But specific instances would highlight my meaning. Are you the good parent? Your ex the bad one? Are you clever? Your classmates stupid? We like to talk about how we hate stupid people, but most of us cringe inside wondering if we’re the stupid person. Haven’t most of us went the wrong way on a one way road? Yikes.

Okay, so I will dive in….

If I want to be the good guy, I have to cast someone in my life as bad. Usually we have regular cast members in our life that fill the roles we play. I’m the good one. The smart one. So you have to play my bad, stupid friend. Just kidding, not really you. The guy driving in front of you in the morning is stupid. Let’s use him. We can tell because he’s on his phone when he’s driving. Right? He forgot to use his turn signal also. Can’t he see how stupid he is? This also makes him a bad guy. He’s breaking your rules.  What about when your ex forgets to tell you of an important birthday party for your 8-year-old daughter, planned for the weekend-your weekend? Of course you get angry. Rightfully so! You’re angry because once again he has proven how irresponsible he is. On the side note, he also proved how responsible and righteous you are. So when you tell the story of your ex and his lack of consideration and his lack of planning, you add any details to flower it up a little. The time he forgot to pack her toothbrush or her lunch for school. How her bedroom at his house still isn’t decorated. What a horrible father he is. By telling these things you aren’t really concerned about the toothbrush or the bedroom paint color. You’re telling your story. Your role in life. You are RESPONSIBLE! And don’t forget smart. We might as well walk up to people on the street wearing a t-shirt saying we are responsible and smart. I’m with Stupid (arrow pointing to the side). We could start our conversations with, I am so responsible. Let me tell you what happened today to prove it.

Am I overdoing it? We all play roles in life. I have mine as well. Why do I have a blog? Why write a book or two? What’s my story? Shhhhhh..don’t tell if you know. Super undercover here.

My story

I want to tell you my story. At least one of them. I have a few. Some of them conflicting with each other. I grew up in a great home. We weren’t rich, but my family was hardworking. I was always proud that my last name was Bailey. It meant a lot to me. Strong, capable, enduring. I was a tiny girl in a small town. I was always trying to catch up with my brothers. If I could keep up, I felt big. My family had two businesses in a town the size of a peanut, so I didn’t feel obscure. I started kindergarten and graduated high school in the same town. Small town, small school. It was a perfect environment for me. I had lots of adults around me. And I have one very strong memory of a family in particular.

Not only did I start and complete school in the same town, but my family went to the same church all of my life. From 8 years old and up. I was baptized in that church and got married there. They gave me my baby showers and poured a lot of love into me. The McAfees were a family that had helped start the church. They took me under their wings for some reason. Their oldest daughter gave me her paper doll collection when I was around 10. When I was 15 I volunteered to help in a summer children’s program. I went into the classroom expecting to be a helper and wound up being the teacher. Mrs. McAfee was my helper. She told me straight out that I would teach this class and she was only the helper. Stammering and stuttering…ummm. Why? Because that’s who she was. She saw something in me and wanted to encourage it to grow. It always makes me tear up. I feel so blessed to have grown up with people like that surrounding me.  They loved me. And not only me, they did that with many children. It was their story.

Carolyn Myss has a book called Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential.  She talks about archetypes. If you have a chance to read it, I urge you to do so. She has a new one which I haven’t read yet, called Archetypes: Who Are You?. Archetypes are stories. Roles that people play. One that seems the most obvious to me is Oprah. She plays a queen. Whatever your feelings towards this woman, you have to admit she’s a queen. She’s not evil, she’s not good, but she is in charge when she walks into a room.

Just a quick note on role-playing. It’s one way to update your story. Role playing has a very powerful effect. People can often put psychological spells on you by putting you into a role, but you don’t have to play their game if you recognize what they are doing. Don’t play along. Walk away.

There’s a study from Stanford University of inmates vs wardens role-playing. In 1971, for 6 of the originally planned 14 days they conducted an experiment with mostly white, middle class volunteers to test the outcomes of the roles we play. If you’ve never heard of it, you can read about it here wikipedia or Stanford Prison Experiment. I don’t know if these people had any lasting after effects, but I can’t imagine it not having a lasting impression. Professor Zimbardo later apologized in his book, The Lucifer Effect

“of not providing adequate oversight and surveillance when it was required… the findings came at the expense of human suffering.”

Now you have a good idea how the game is played, let me remind once again you of the ground rules about the stories we tell…

  • This is non judgmental. No story is wrong. And no story is right. Mine is just mine. Not superior or inferior.
  • We don’t always know who gave us our story, but we can notice that it’s there.
  • It’s changeable if we decide to change it.
  • Only we can change our story.
  • We all have a story playing in the back of our minds. Some script we rule our lives by.

Read All About It!

Book CoverAnd finally! Drum roll please….It is here.

Oops! I Forgot Myself is here.

I have writer’s cramp. Below is the PDF version only. The Kindle Version will be available on Jan 2, 2013 from Amazon and it will have a free preview. I will let you know. Thanks for playing!
Oops! I Forgot Myself
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AVG0D6O