I’ve been putting stories onto paper since I learnt how to hold a pen, and dreaming up stories for longer. But committing to my craft has brought some unexpected changes.
One time, my friends and I were talking about Doctor Who. Like any other discussion of the show, the prime antagonists, the Daleks, naturally cropped up. My friend Lucy, who was a fan of the classic series, ranted about how the Daleks could fly now and she didn’t like it.
I was confused. “But that’s brilliant!” I reasoned, “They’re more threatening!”
(That moment in Dalek where the characters think they’re safe once they reach the staircase, and BOOM FLYING DALEK. I love it! I love it! I love it!)
“Naah!” Lucy shivered. “I don’t like it!”
It wasn’t because she thought it was bad writing or she was a hardcore fan against change. She didn’t like it because it scared her. Because it worked.
Which seems like a raging contradiction if you ask me.
My other friend was enraged at how the characters acted in the episode Midnight, where the characters are trapped in a plane with a possessed woman. The fear drives them to act irrationally and eventually consider killing her and, later, the Doctor.
My friend was angry because she knew people would act like that in that situation.
I brought my own passion into the conversation. In Midnight, the Doctor is paralysed when the other characters decide to throw him out the plane. The absolute terror in his eyes gives me shivers to this day, the fear of knowing he’s going to die and there is nothing he can do to stop it – I love it, it’s amazing, gimme more…
At which point, my friends gave a collective “That’s f’ed up.”
They weren’t amazed. They were having nightmares.
Likewise, while most people were traumatised by the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, I was like ‘That’s BRILLIANT, I’m so proud!!!!”
Jeez. I don’t even know these people yet I’m acting like a mother on her kid’s graduation day.
Not only am I proud and filled with admiration, I’m thinking of ways I can create something just as good, if not better. Books, movies, even games, all become shining examples of what I can become, what I want to become.
But it makes me a little sad too. Because it’s harder for me to ‘get into’ stories now.
Often, I’m passive while reading a book or watching a movie. I don’t feel what I know I should be feeling. Stories are consumed and put aside.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely emotionless! When I read the end of The Man Who Fell to Earth, I went and hugged every member of my family. I was a trembling wreck throughout season 3 of Mr. Robot!
It still happens, but it’s rarer. More difficult.
It takes something truly special to draw that emotion out of me. If I’m not well and truly into a story, I don’t feel that same rage, or fear, or happiness, that comes easily to my friends.
I love to see people’s first-time reactions to fiction I like, see how deeply they fall into the story, how terrified they become when the characters are in danger, how happy they are when their favourite characters find happiness. Even if it’s a movie I consider mediocre, they seem to get so much out of it!
And I miss that.