Sunday, December 11, 2011

Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2011 and C. S. Lewis

-- C. S. Lewis

My story for NaNo this year was based on a Grimm Fairy tale, but I foolishly decided I was cool enough to pull a C. S. Lewis and set my story in both the ordinary world, and a magical world. 

C. S. Lewis is my ultimate standard for magical stories. He can make a world outside of reality completely real, and he never lets you forget that there is a God, there is love, and magic is not all-powerful. It is wonderful. But it is also something only the child-like can truly experience.

My story is, quite frankly, awful, and far from the point where any eyes but mine shall see it's horror, but I found, as I wrote, that Charlotte, my 16 year old main character, had, like C. S. Lewis' own characters, gotten too old for magic.

It didn't happen on purpose, trust me. I write what I'm feeling too often, which leaves my characters looking like emotionally spastic teenagers with depression problems (which is a poor reflection of myself, honest). But nevertheless, as I wrote, the woods which Charlotte once believed were magical became 'scary' and the thought of them being anything but ordinary, or frightening, was childish to her.

According to C. S. Lewis, magic is something you grow out of. If you've read the extraordinary Chronicles of Narnia, you know how he incorporated that directly into the books. Characters you love so completely need to leave Narnia...because they've gotten too old for magic.

Fortunately, C. S. Lewis reassured his god-daughter Lucy that someday, she would be able to read fairy tales again. Someday, she could reenter the world of magic.

Indirectly, that's what happens to my main character, Charlotte. She needs to 'grow out' of being 'grown up' before she can see what is truly extraordinary, and except what is 'magical' again.

I love C. S. Lewis, because he never lost his sense of wonder. He suffered extreme sorrow in his life, and like every human being, extreme pain. But he held on to wonder. That is all I ask of all my work as a writer; that it has something wondrous and magical in it at all times, so that it can give all of us who are a little too old for fairy tales a taste of the wonder we're too sophisticated for, no matter how fleeting.

When I eventually go back to my NaNo Novel and try to sort out the genius amid the utter chaos, I know that I'll be taking a lot of C. S. Lewis along with me, just to help Charlotte find her way from point A to point B. I'm already looking forward to next year, and all the time in between where I can write whatever I want!

Hopefully it will all me a little bit wondrous.

Rest in peace C. S. Lewis, 1898-1963.

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