For me, because I deal in stories, it's easy for me to think that my life is like one. And, in a way, it is. I have a beginning, I'm currently in the middle (at least, I hope so), and eventually, on this earth, there will be an end.
See, the thing about studying writing (especially screenwriting) is that you start to see things in the mindset of the three act structure. It begins with the inciting incident, and that involves a choice, a choice our hero must make. Whatever he decides, that choice propels him to action, which eventually brings about the resolution. Of course, there will be set-backs along the way for our hero, but eventually he arrives at the end.
I think that this structure resonates with people because, in a sense, it's true. Life really is like this, situationally-speaking. Think about it... You meet someone. She is attractive. You have to make a choice - do you ask her out on a date or not? This choice on your end prompts her to have to make a choice. She accepts. This one situation and your subsequent choices concerning it propel you into eventual marital bliss... hopefully!
Isn't life exactly like that?
Umm, not exactly. Perhaps the girl that you asked out on the date didn't want to go. What then? Do you find a new girl to date? What if that girl doesn't want to go out with you? If it were a movie, it would probably be a dark comedy, and you'd eventually find yourself in some sort of weird situation where (depending on the mood of the screenwriter), you'd either die in the end or meet the quirky girl of your dreams.
But I digress.
You see, life is so much more complicated and boring and exciting than one story can encapsulate. In fact, I think our lives are many, many stories each. Some wrap up quickly, some last until you breathe your last breath. That's what's good to remember when you are feeling down about something in your life. It's possible that this is just one small story, one small subplot, after all. Or, it could be a big story that's just not resolved yet.
That might seem depressing, but that means there's still hope to cling to. Think about the best movies you've ever seen. Isn't it when the hero is most down, when things seem the bleakest, when all hope is seemingly lost that redemption comes? That's what we all long for, and I believe if you hold out as long as you can and you keep looking for it, and you keep fighting even when all things seem at a loss... redemption will come.
I'll end with a quote from one of my favorite authors.
I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.”
Saturday, June 3rd, I participated in the Thousand Island Book Festival for the third year in a row. It’s a great event held in Clayton, NY where local authors and authors around the Northeast come together. Local schools participate as well, bussing in kids to attend seminars where authors teach them story, illustrating, writing, or any other topic that is relates to the author’s work.
On Friday night, the night before the event, there is an author’s cocktail party where the authors can mingle, get to know each other, as well as speak to those who put together the festival (most of whom are librarians).
My wife and I attended and had a good time, catching up with those we have gotten to know over the years, as well as meeting other authors for the first time.
(We also had a great view overlooking the St. Lawrence River!)
This was the first year I attended since my second book, Rise of the Branded, had been released. I had a lot of interest in Scar of the Downers the past two years, and so I was hoping that some of the same kids would be there. If they liked the first book, I was hoping they would want to purchase the second one. Some that did happen, but most of the books that I sold were to new readers, which is also exciting.
And, this was the first time I was able to take credit card payments, and I’m happy to report that all went well with that. In fact, I think that was one of the best moments of the day for me – I had some anxiety over how it would go, and when all went smoothly, it was a big relief.
And, my girls had a great time as well. They went to different author presentations and played on the playground. What more could a kid want?
But, interacting with readers and other authors was truly the best part of the day for me. It’s easy to feel alone in this business. Writing is a solitary activity for the most part, and so to have an opportunity to be with others who love books (the reading and writing of them) was energizing and encouraging.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.