I’m Being Turned Into Minas Tirith

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

See that beautiful city? Majestic. The fact that right now I’m being transformed into that so that my body is fit for my King, so that he can come and live within me, gets the tears rolling down my cheeks. Me, a simple mortal human, be the palace of a King? Me? I can’t even properly turn my room into having the floor visible, but he is taking the labor of love to hang the banners upon the walls and polish the silver, to set the flag upon the highest tower and cut the stone. Does it hurt? Yeah. Sometimes, I just don’t like it. I rebel. I say, “What is this? I asked for a microwave, not a banquet hall. God, this isn’t what I had in mind.” But in the end, you realize that there is no other way. Now, you are fit for the Lord, and He takes delight in His handiwork.

Things Just Got Personal

I read a lot, as anyone who knows two shakes about me can tell you. I will forgo sleep, food, social connections, and productivity to finish a book, which in the long run probably isn’t the best of ideas, because not only is it viewed as harmful to my options for later in life, the emotional damage I receive is slowly shattering my heart into three million pieces.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres of literature – but not for the reasons you might think. Although I love hearing stories about things that happened before my birth told in a more individualized way, the true intention behind reading those particular books is to drive the point home. Most historical fiction books are based on tragic events, such as the French Revolution or World War II. You hear about these happenings and say to yourself, “Oh, that’s sad.” And you move on. Facts on a page don’t speak to you. You see the numbers of the casualties and injuries, but you can’t envision anyone. You don’t know anyone who had that happen to them or had someone you love die in such a horrific situation, and try as you might, it’s not your battle. You cry for those who felt the pain, but you have not yet felt it yourself.

In other words, it’s not personal.

But when you find a very good historical fiction author, they make it your business. They give you a character and make you care about them. When they are hurt, you sob with them. When their home is destroyed, you are standing in the rubble. When they die, your heart cracks.

So now when you learn about that point in time, you have a face with the numbers. It is personal now. You feel the pain of those who have lost a real person, because in your mind, that person was real. That author made it real for you. They brought someone to life with paper and ink, and now that circumstance that happened so long ago is yours.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to be historical fiction. Let’s talk about fantasy for a minute.

Now, here’s where everyone gets a little mixed up. How can you relate to fantasy? How does that make things that have happened personal if the things that happened to this character haven’t even happened?

Well, take Frodo in Lord of the Rings for instance. He was a cheerful, fun-loving Hobbit until he was made to carry a weight heavier than anyone could bear. Fear, sadness, anger, and jealousy that wasn’t his own was coursing through him, yet he made it. He threw the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom and became free.

Most likely you won’t have to throw a small gold circle into lava, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a weight of your own. A war between Orcs and Elves will most likely never happen (much to my dismay), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have wars going on inside of us.

And that’s what a good author does. They make you care. They make you look a little closer into people and see that they all have a story. There are adventures they could tell and battles they have won. There is so much beneath the surface that we never realize, never take the time, until the author opens your eyes.

Things just got personal.

Author’s note: This does not mean I am condoning ANY of the character deaths that I have experienced in my reading career. I don’t care how real it makes anything sound! I’M STILL MAD AT ALL OF YOU.

Wait, What?

There are many expressions, phrases, and collections of words that we see in reading. Although they are not entirely clear on their meaning, we still all know what the author is attempting to say because it has become so common our brains have substituted what it actually sounds like with the author’s portrayal of it. I like to over-analyze, and that is what I am going to do now. So here are some expressions, phrases, collections of words, etc. that don’t quite make sense when you look carefully.

1. Pulling back the weapon for the killing shot.

Have you ever cut yourself when chopping celery or anything like that? Do you realize how easy it is to part human flesh with a sharp object? Very. There is no need to pull back the weapon to kill someone, unless you’re aiming for something specific like a bone, which then, why didn’t you line it up correctly in the first place? But the baddie always pulls back the weapon because then there is enough time for the hero to escape or something equally dramatic to occur. Authors, I’m on to you.

2. Razor sharp swords.

Razors can be dull, and they can also be fine enough to draw blood at a single touch. You know, you can just say “sharp”. Or you can get fancy with it as I did and be all “blood will drip at a single prick from this dastardly blade”. Come on. Putting the razor bit in there is weak and does not, in fact, add any new information to the adjective “sharp” that you have already conveniently placed. If you’re going to argue that razors are at all times sharp, which is incorrect, then one of these words still needs to go to avoid being redundant.

3. A whispering subconscious.

Subconscious: Noun – The part of the mind below the level of conscious perception.

Basically, you can’t know about thinking about it. Yet apparently, the subconscious of these literary characters not only is in contact with the rest of the brain 24/7, it whispers like a creepy stalker. If I felt something whispering in my brain I would feel like Smeagol with Gollum in his head. I would freak out! This is not okay! Your subconscious is not something you can consciously feel. That’s why it’s called your SUBconscious. Under the radar. It may, at times, give you warning signals and rushes of adrenaline, but it will not converse with you. If you are hearing voices in your head and it’s not God, you have a problem. Contact your doctor with all haste.

4. Fiery red hair.

This one I find particularly annoying simply because I read a lot of books with redheaded main characters.

First of all, fiery. Fire can be all sorts of different colors – blue, white, orange, black, pink, even green if you threw some really weird potions into it. It does not specify that it is red. For all we know, this person you are describing could have freakish yellow hair. Probably not what the author had in mind, but that would be fiery.

And then red. Red has millions of shades. Check a Crayola crayon box if you need some assistance. There’s cranberry red, apple red, brick red, light red, dark red, maroon, purplish red, sky-at-three-in-the-morning-after-a-storm red…it could be any of those! Neither of the adjectives you are currently trying to use are telling me anything at all about this person’s hair! Is it curly? Long? Short? Pixie cut? Down to the small of the back? Nothing!

On a more serious note, I’m not kidding about those Crayola boxes. They have every color known to man and even some that I’m pretty sure were randomly generated by the Minions from Despicable Me. Can someone please explain to me what process Crayola went through that brought about the color “rhubarb pie on black carpet”?

5. Stop breathing/heart stops/gasping/stomach clenches and all the others of their ilk.

Hi, romance authors. Could you turn on your ears for a few moments? Thanks.

You’re telling me that when I meet someone for the first time who just so happens to be of the opposite gender, I will drop dead because I stopped breathing and my heart gave out because OH MY GOODNESS, it’s a person. As a homeschooled introverted child, I can totally get the whole meeting-new-people-terror thing, but never have I gone so far as to stop breathing. This is a serious condition! So many female characters nowadays require medical attention and they are just not getting it.

Fictional health care sucks.

✍ * ✍ * ✍ * ✍

Now I’m off to go write something with every single one of these phrases used in the popular format because if I use expressions of my own creation that do make sense nobody will understand them because we are all so used to these ones.

God help the writing industry.

Words

As an author, I have a great respect and love for words. The way they sound, all the different meanings and uses, how you can put them together, the origins and pronunciations, everything. You will never meet an author who hates words. They are tools of beauty and wonder, the building blocks of the universe – literally! God created everything that has ever existed and ever will exist through words. We clearly see in the story of the Tower of Babel that with miscommunication comes the end of progress. Nothing happens when we can’t understand each other. Words.

Yet according to evolution, words happened by accident. “Well, fish began making noises and then when they evolved into more sentient beings they formed words and…” What? You’re telling me that the same beings who can’t even remember what they had for breakfast this morning created billions upon billions of words in different languages with different meanings and different pronunciation? Not only that, we strung them into sentences that vary in length and complexity that have rules and grammar? Just to add another impossible factor into this, we also made unity and paragraphs and invented stories full of love and life and beauty and wonder that not even the authors themselves could ever fully understand? That we, all alone, created things that open the heavens and shake the ground and stop wars and grow peace and change hearts? Humans did that?

Rubbish. Complete rubbish. Can you try, for just a second, to imagine a world without words? Reading, writing, speaking, all gone. You wouldn’t even be able to think in words. There would be no describing things. Even using pictures for communication wouldn’t work out as well because there would be nothing to interpret the message properly with. The creativity and love and strength of mind it would require to create words cannot even begin to be contemplated by our feeble minds.

Only a beautiful God could have created such beautiful tools.

The Beauty of Lord of the Rings

“Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I’ve said before. You can learn all there is to know about their ways in a month, yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings has been acclaimed for so many things – beautiful, descriptive writing, adventure, wonderful characters, a good plot, legendary quotes, and its portrayal of fantasy species along with so many other things, and I do think that the series is all of that. But the true beauty that made The Lord of the Rings stand out among the rest were the Hobbits.

Hobbits look rather unimpressive from the outside, being very short (shorter than the dwarves, in fact), and usually rather fat in the stomach and not keen on physical exercise.

But the fact that they were so unimpressive is what made what they did so powerful. They found courage, somehow, to kill orcs, goblins, spiders, and all sorts of other unnatural creatures that would terrify them normally. They went on huge adventures that they couldn’t have even dreamed of. They endured hardships like hunger, constant fear, and pain that they hadn’t ever faced before. And right now I’m sounding so much like some cheesy commercial but it’s the truth.

And in the last pages of the book, it is not the dwarves, or the elves, or the men, or the wizards, or an army of the dead, nor any of who are mostly considered to be the strongest and the best, who end up saving the day.

It’s a simple, comfort-happy creature who likes plenty of meals a day and peaceful surroundings.

A hobbit.