I spent a full few minutes researching whether my title should read I wish I were Hermione Granger or I wish I was Hermione Granger. Turns out both are fine, but were is a tad bit more acceptable. Now, the whole sentence sounds odd and funny, kind of like when you say a common word (such as squiggle) but hear it as something from an alien language.
Anyway. Sometimes, I wish I were Hermione Granger. Fictional character or not – she’s smart, got awesome hair, and she’s witty. Plus, there’s that whole little thing about being able to whip things into existence with her wand.
I was thinking about this today, and got some mad inspiration. Will some little girl out there (or some twenty-six year-old…) wish she was the heroine in my novel someday? Will she want her name and her hair and her friends? Will a middle school boy identify with my novel’s hero, and find some unspeakable confidence because of that character? What a notion.
I guess the only way to find out is to keep pressing on through this huge maelstrom of a project. Since January, I’ve tweaked at my completed first draft in effort to make a more solid, page-turning story. The plot has thickened (in my mind, at least) and the characters are multi-dimensional, thinking, moving creatures who I’m finally getting to know. The time has come to focus on writing my second draft.
On a side note, I came across a guy today who has never, ever read a piece of fiction in his life. There I was, in the final chapter of the latest Jen Lancaster (yes, you totally need to read it), when an old customer came and said hello. I ogled his very-thick-and-completely-in-Arabic book on the table, which he had just finished reading. He said the book had a hefty impact on him, but finishing it left a void inside, like it was a life that died. I totally identified. I felt the same way at the end of the Harry Potter series, and I told him so. He looked at me, amazed that I read all seven books in the series (I thought I was the last person on Earth to read them. Guess I was wrong.) right before telling me he only reads self-help books, and he’s never read a fiction book in his life.
What? Never read a fiction book in his life? As an avid reader and an aspiring author of a fiction novel – what? I can understand not finishing a book because you get distracted, or the book doesn’t capture your attention. But to not even try? To only read self-help books? I’d never heard of such a thing.
When I had pushed aside my momentary disbelief, I suggested he try the Harry Potter series if he ever ventures outside the world of self-help. He said he might give it a try, especially since he liked all of the movies. I, of course, informed him that the novels are far superior to the undoubtedly-well-done films.
If he does give fiction a try, I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised. Our conversation got me thinking about how much I’ve learned from reading fiction. Novels may not be an explicit guide on how to live life with flawless ease if you follow Step One, Step Two, Step Three – sometimes, though, I find them more enlightening. You learn about friendship, honor, mistakes, redemption, endurance, heroism, and so much more, just by watching characters go through their various adventures. You experience Harry’s dilemmas and adventures, and you feel Ron’s pain at being the overlooked side-kick/son. You learn that while everyone has a redeeming quality or two, everyone also has their fatal flaw. There may be no Wizards or Muggles in real life, but you learn a whole lot about discrimination, corruption, and the struggles real people face. You live vicariously through Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they rise to the occasion against evil, at great cost to their personal comforts. Great novels with vibrant characters resonate in reality.
I hope mine becomes one of those great novels. It might take a while to finish, it might take a while for the right person to take interest, but that is my goal. If I were Hermione Granger, I could say a spell, wave my wand, and make it happen right now. I’m not, though, so I guess I’ll just have to dig my heels in and work hard for it. Good thing I’m up for that – the process is turning out to be half the fun. I expect the other half will be the rewarding feeling I get at completing my goal someday.