The other day we had a family dinner & movie night - home-made pizzas and the Disney Pixar film The Incredibles. There is a scene early in the movie where two under-cover superheros are rescuing people from a burning building. Lucius Best AKA Frozone has the ability to create ice, from the water in his body, and the water in the air. In this hot burning environment he is too dehydrated, and there is no moisture in the air. The building starts to fall apart and they find themselves in a jewelry shop - mistaken for thieves.
Frozone is empty, he cannot use his powers. He has to take a quick drink from a water cooler to get back his abilities. This got me thinking. Often in life we can do things that empty us in some way, and need to re-fill. I thought about this in both spiritual and creative senses.
If we keep trying to "do stuff" for God, but never refill from his word and time spent with Him then we’re going to run dry and not be effective. In his post last week, Gregory Morris did a good job of talking about refilling and refueling from God’s word, and there’s certainly nothing more I could add to this.
In relation to our creative life, I think similar laws apply. In our writing, we are pouring out creativity but we need to refill our creative tank sometimes. I’m not talking about reading writing craft books and here, that is also absolutely vital, but I’m think of that as equipping ourselves with the right tools. I think we can refill our creative tank by consuming good stories.
I am trying to change the way I read stories. Traditionally, I've just become swept away by the story, but not thought too much about what the author is doing, and how they’re doing it. I am trying more and more to be a little more aware of what is going on around me when I read for pleasure. I’m not talking about full-on studying the text, but just having a greater awareness. Maybe other people are better at this and just do it naturally.
As example of this happened with me recently.. I’m currently reading A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr. This Christian Fantasy has as its protagonist Eroll - a young drunk. He has no ambition or purpose in his life but to raise enough money for his next ale binge. There is nothing about him to make him a sympathetic protagonist. Contrast Eroll with another character - Liam. Liam is attractive, intelligent, kind and better than most with a sword. In addition to all of this, He is humble about his abilities and not at all stuck up. Everything about this character says we should love him - he is the perfect hero. The fascinating thing is that as we read the book, we identify strongly with Eroll, we care about him, and we quickly learn to dislike Liam. Why?
The author has done a very good job of making Eroll sympathetic to us. We stick very close in his point of view. We live through the danger with him as unknown assassins try to kill him. Then, we view Liam through the lense of Eroll’s jealousy. I was quite shocked at myself when I realised that I had resentful feelings toward Liam. That just shows what a good job the author did. Later in the book, when we find out why Eroll has descended into a drinking problem, we feel for him even more deeply because we already feel close to him.
I think this kind of observational reading can help recharge our tank, just like Frozone drinking that water, and I am going to try to more consciously do it.
Adam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction and video blogger. He is actively working toward becoming a published author. He lives in Tasmania, Australia. Adam discusses books and movies on his youTube series Stories. You can find Adam on-line at collingszone.wordpress.com or his Google+ Profile