Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Attaining the Impossible

NaNoWriMo Day 8 Tips from Harry Potter

Kiki Hamilton, the fabulous author of The Faerie Ring, posted an awesome quote on her blog yesterday:

It's one trick to manifest exactly what you want.
It's another to bring about something even better.
Leave the door open,
       The Universe

It stuck with me all day and really got me thinking.  To me, this quote speaks of enlarging our possibilities, of opening the door to imagination, of believing in serendipity.

As writers of fiction, we are doubly cursed, or blessed if I'm going to learn from the above.  Not only must we attain what seems impossible in our own lives, which surely characterizes publishing in today's market, but we must create characters who succeed beyond the ordinary in every story that we write.

That's one reason why I think so many of us find JK Rowling's story so inspiring.  She attained the impossible not only in her life, but also in her creation.  And she did it both times in a manner uniquely her own.  She opened doors no one thought possible to go through.

While her welfare mom makes it big story is definitely inspiring, and certainly shows a woman who succeeded beyond the ordinary through utilizing her imagination to the best of her ability, what I'd like to focus on here is how she challenged Harry to attain the impossible in his defeat of the darkest wizard of his day.

Harry did NOT kill Voldemort.

Contrary to how most writers will execute their triumphant climax of hero defeating arch-villain, Harry did not cast a killing spell that ended Voldemort's life.  What killed Voldy was his own rebounding killing curse which he shot because he did not understand what this 17-year-old kid had learned.

And that's the beauty of Jo's spin.  There is the difference of how opening the door of imagination attained the impossible for her character.

Here was a kid, a boy who was never the best in his class, who did not have the happiest, most secure home life, who did not start off with the most impressive magical abilities, but who through no fault of his own was thrown into a course of action where he must kill or be killed.  Harry accepted that he must meet and defeat a wizard renown for his potent skill and merciless dark magic.  Not only that, this wizard had managed to attain the most powerful killing stick in the world.

And yet, in the end, Harry did not meet the Dark Lord as an equal.  Harry met him as a superior, in his own terms, playing the game in a way others had discouraged.  And that was not to cast a killing curse, but merely to disarm.  Because Harry had learned through the course of his intensely tortured and personal journey the meaning of loyalty, love, and choice.  He had won the loyalty not only of the Wand of Destiny, but of all his friends and companions at Hogwarts who fought by his side.  Harry had learned to harness the power of love to not only forgive the man he'd believed had lived to torment him, Snape, but to offer Tom Riddle in his last breathing moments the opportunity to find remorse and live.  And Harry had accepted his choice to not only walk into the Dark Forest and offer his life so that all those he loved, and even those he didn't even know, would live -- but to choose in that final confrontation to cast a spell to disarm the evil rather than kill the man.

Harry attained the impossible.  And JK Rowling, Harry's creative goddess, provided her young readers a powerful lesson in choice and creating their own destiny.

But for us writers, she has also gifted us with wonderful examples.  She had no idea when she was living on the dole in Edinburgh as a young mother spinning out her story that she could not contain, that she would attain the impossible in her own life.  But she persevered, she stuck to her dreams, she committed to a young orphan that she believed in, and with hard work and growing skill, and a touch of serendipitous luck from the universe, she cast a spell that disarmed the world.

The goals we attain may not play out along the massive scale of a Rowling or a Potter, but that doesn't mean they will not be as equally powerful in our own lives.  As long as we keep working toward what we most value...and as long as we open the door to the impossible along the way.

As you're working toward your final climax in your novel this month, take time to consider...Is your character attaining the impossible?  How challenging have you made his goals?  How difficult have you created her opposition?  And in the end, have both you and your hero left the door open for an opportunity, a choice, you never thought possible?