Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Bit About Singularity, Harry Potter, and Things In My Life

Hello blog! I have missed you!
My apologies to this blog. Real life has been absolutely and ridiculously busy. Here are some of the highlights:
1. I am in school! I just finished my first round of exams. I did not fail. This is a good start, for me. But school is pretty much ass-kicking, in that it is both very awesome and it is also sapping me of any desire to you know, do anything besides study and eat and sleep and veg in front of the computer to watch all the television I don’t get on this side of the Atlantic. Sorry for that.
2. I am now OFFICIALLY OUT OF FIRST DRAFT HELL! So there was that one week, as there always is, where I was hating myself and OMG WORST WRITER EVER WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?! And now I’m all *gleeface* because now I can like, actually make something. And it’s good. Really. I mean more than it just has STOPPED SUCKING, it’s actually fairly decent and good. Which I owe to the fact that
3. I have been reading a lot! A lot a lot a lot. I signed up for the Goodreads challenge at the beginning of the year. I was planning on reading 35 books, which I felt was a fairly decent number for someone whose book eating had dwindled after the whole School Thing We Don’t Talk About. Actually, it began dwindling when I started school, and reading for academic reasons, and then picked back up again, and then I got so that I felt so guilty for not writing that I didn’t read and we all know how that worked out. So, since I started university this year, I had to promise myself I was going to read more, so that the book didn’t starve. And oh my gosh I mean *really*. Actually, most of my reading has been audio books, since I’m able to squeeze in time to listen to reading everywhere, and I’ve gone all old-lady and can’t read a physical book while in a moving vehicle anymore, which is a huge change from the days when I could walk down the street with a book on my face and navigate through peripheral vision. (See? The lazy eye is good for something!) Which reminds me:
Harry Potter.
Have you seen the movie? Are you sad? I’m sad. The storyteller in me is sad because, well, you know how the New World Order is essentially that we can all go on our merry little weirdo way and always find someone like us, and that’s awesome? I love that, I really do. Like I love how I wrote one day on my twitter that I couldn’t decide between the Death Star cookie Jar or the TARDIS cookie jar. And one of my followers is like, “OMG DUDE GET THE TARDIS!” and one of my other followers is like, “I have no idea what that is.” But.
Harry Potter is public consciousness. It’s something you have an opinion on whether you actually know what you’re talking about or not. We have new words, thanks to Harry Potter, we have a new concept of magic, of fairytale and epic and YA fiction, and everyone knows what and who these people are, even if they don’t know where or how they know it. You know what I mean? And we really don’t have a whole lot of that. It kind of feels like when Michael Jackson died. I remember feeling really weird about it because saying you didn’t know Michael Jackson is like saying you didn’t know music. Because everyone had at least one song they knew that was a Michael Jackson song, or a Jackson Five song, even though they may not know that’s what it was. People will be making Harry Potter jokes and barely understanding that they started out as Harry Potter jokes. People will spoof those books and those stories and those ideas so often, that the copies will gain notoriety separate from the original. For years, if not forever, we will hold that up and say, “This is how you tell a story.” I think about Robert McKay’s “Story”, and how the whole thing is based around Casablanca, and I think about similar books about how to write that are really about Star Wars, or whatever. This is that, for us, for our generation. And I’m getting a little annoyed at the number of times someone says, “The Next Harry Potter.” Because I’ve got news for you, guys. The Next Harry Potter? Is not due for the next twenty five years. At least.
But that’s okay. I try to focus on that, on the next twenty five years, which is huge and terrifying, because whatever this next thing is, it will belong to my grandkids or something. Which is also a bit depressing, in its own way. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not writing this to tell you that I hope, or that I think, I could bring about that Next, whatever it is. I don’t even aspire to that, not really. I don’t think anyone ever does. I get really annoyed when people sneer at JK Rowling for hiding away. I don’t think there are a whole lot of people sitting behind a computer screen who ever aspire to that kind of fame. And I honestly don’t think anyone really thinks about it. I mean, the people who sign up for reality shows and sing on talent shows have an inkling of wanting to be famous, and known. But as the love of my life has said, it’s no longer a matter of The Big Thing, but a whole bunch of Things That Are Important To Someone. We are parsed and separated, and I’m not sure that it is, as the cynics would say, a result of our technologically inclined world, and I am not even sure, as I write this, if it is necessarily a bad thing. Like I said, I revel in my own singularity, in each individual thing that I love, that other people love, and still others know nothing about. I love that I can build a world around myself, and still belong to a bigger world, almost but not quite as much as I love that I can build a world for other people to hopefully wander around in, one day. But I also love those moments when we realize we are all on the same planet, no matter how different we are. It reminds me of the day I was in a bus station in Toronto. The bus station was quite old, so instead of the invisible motion detectors on the doors, it had those little pads, like you get in some stores. What would happen is someone would set one off and a seagull or a pigeon would fly in. Then the seagull or pigeon would land, and the door would open, and the bird would get startled and fly away, missing the fact that its freedom was essentially, right in front of it’s face. Then it would fly off again, and someone else would come in and repeat the process. One day I was watching this little musical doors presentation, and a little girl came by, holding her mother’s hand. She could not have been more than three, and she ecstatically pointed to the door and yelled “Bird! Bird!” Her mother smiled indulgently, and pulled her along. Not five minutes later, an older child, belonging to a French couple, passed by where I was sitting, pointed at the doors and shrieked “Oiseaux! Oiseaux!”* as loudly as she could. Her parents held tightly to her arms, smiling, so that the little girl did not run out of the doors in her excitement. Ten minutes after that, there came an Asian family in my line of site, with another child somewhere between three and six, who pointed at the door the bird had just flown
out of, and yelled one word in a language I did not understand. And his parents laughed, and smiled, and gently but firmly guided him away from the birds. I think about that sometimes, when I need reminding that I belong to a wider world than I sometimes recognize. I’m not saying Harry Potter makes us all happy. I’m just saying, there’s not a whole lot in the world that can cut through to everyone, all at once. For that, I will thank Ms. Rowling, and I will sit patiently and wait, and not pout and not call random objects that look like YA fantasy books “The Next Harry Potter.” Because trust me, when the Next Whatever hits? We’re all going to know it, whether we like it or not.
Thanks, Jo.

*In case you’re not Canadian, it means bird.