Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! I’m thankful for all of you as my time to share my writing has greatly decreased this year. It’s not a bad thing, but just a thing. I hope each of you enjoys a day snuggled up at home with your family and friends. I hope each of you finds joy in the smallest drop of grace we experience every day, and in the ocean of grace the Lord has provided. There is so much to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!
Another one of my favorite lines from The Cost of Two Hands:
Oak closed his eyes. Pain’s words reverberated through him. Keep Fighting. Keep Fighting. Did deep roots and life-giving water depend on other Guardians and other men? No. It was the King who kept the waters moving. It was the King who brought the unborn to this world. It was the King who gave Oak his powers and his responsibility. That hadn’t changed just because Oak was chained in the Mall. He had still been chosen to be the Forest Guardian. He had been chosen to hold Bree even if for a moment, and he had been chosen to be here. Just because here had tortures unbearable didn’t mean here was the end. And if it was the end? Joy! For he would take the last road through the final Door to the World Beyond. There was nothing Pain could do to change any of that.
I’m reading through The Cost of Two Hands in preparation for starting Book 3 of the Artists Return, Heir of Greenhome.
These are some of my favorite lines:
“Yes. I gave my heart to a woman. She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”
“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered, getting another pointed glare from Gus.
“No. No. Not grown men. There was only one grown man. The rest were growing men, her growing men. Her boys.”
Gus gulped. “She had seven sons. You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”
“No. I gave my heart to a woman with a strong face and a heart for trees. I gave it to Bree.”
I’ve noticed a trend in storytelling where characters are only applauded if they save themselves. Damsels in distress are right out. Don’t be needy.
But, as a Christian storyteller, I find this concept to be exceptionally distasteful. (On many levels.)
I need a savior.
I am completely incapable of saving myself.
I can’t pull myself up by my bootstraps and fix my life.
And I get it. I’m an American. We fought for our Independence. We celebrate rebellion. Our gene pool is stuffed full of people who went at it to explore, conquered, and carve out homes for themselves far from safety. Our mythos is the Cowboy and the WW2 soldier. We love stories of strong men and women out there against the world and winning. We love stories of the underdog who rises up and saves the day. I love those as much as anyone else. I love stories of bravery and courage, but I also love stories of sacrifice and saving.
It seems our culture finds it distasteful for a man to save a woman. She needs to save herself. She needs to not need him. But, what if she does need saving? What if you found yourself in an inescapable situation? Wouldn’t you want to be saved? How many times does the Bible talk about God hearing the cries of the oppressed? He doesn’t tell them he’s going to sit over here and let them save themselves because it will be good for them.
Independence has its place, but we have given something that should be balanced with her sister Dependence, a seat alone. Independence can give us the ability to help others, the strength to do what needs to be done, creativity, but she should never be in the foremost. When Independence takes the lead alone she becomes harsh, bitter, selfish, and pushes everyone away. She’s not nice. We praise YA books that teach us women that we don’t need a man to save us, but I, as a women, have health issues. I actually do need my husband’s help. There are things he is better at than I am. There are times, yes in small, ordinary ways, he rescues me. I need to be saved.
I am a sinner. I can’t save myself. I can’t wash my sin away. I can’t, by sheer force of will, make myself acceptable. I must have someone stronger than I come in and help me. I must be saved.
As a child, I didn’t find the idea of the Damsel in Distress distasteful. I only found it distasteful when she stood in a corner and screamed, or fainted. I always yelled at her to pick up a rock and fight. Then, when I was in my teens, my goat herd got attacked by two dogs—our dogs attacked my goat herd. I stood at the top of the hill watching these dogs ravish this herd of sweet goats and I screamed. I couldn’t move. I was frozen in horror. It was one of the weirdest moments of my life. I literally could not move. I could not save the ones I loved. I was in deep distress. (I actually don’t remember screaming, but my Mom told me later she could hear me on the other side of the hill.) The one time I needed to pick up a rock, I could not.
Being the Damsel in Distress is humiliating. Waiting around to be saved, finding out you’re weak, realizing you’re dependent on others is humiliating, but it is also so very good for us. It is good for us to need others. It is good for us to need our friends. It is good for us to need our spouses and families. It is good for us to realize we are finite.
And, it is good to remember that if you are struggling, being abused, fighting depression, or any other dark thing, get help. Don’t go it alone. Don’t let your pride or your belief that you must save yourself set you on a path of total independence. Admit to the fact that we are all damsels in distress at some points in our life and need saving. Then, at that moment, in the valley of the shadow of death, remember the fairy tales: knights come.
I think our stories would be better if we didn’t throw out the Damsel in Distress and the White Knight, but if we honestly realized we can’t handle it all, we can’t save ourselves. We do desperately need a White Knight. This isn’t some oppression tactic to tell little girls that they have to sit on their hands, and to tell little boys they get to have all the fun. This is to say that we all need saving, and we should all help others when we can, even when we are weak.
I saw a post about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that praised Harry for saving himself at the end. That the whole point of seeing himself and realizing it wasn’t his father was to show that Harry saved himself. I just laughed. Harry had to have so much help to reach that point, so much help, that it’s silly to think he saved himself. It was just one last step. He took the final step. That’s like a woman with a broken-down car who changes her own tire. The tire her father taught her to change, the tire her husband left in the car, or the tire that she purchased. We don’t’ save ourselves.
We always have help.
We have friends who support us or bop us over the head. We have people who hug us and people who drive us. We have stories. We have music. We don’t save ourselves, even when we have to take that final step.
And saying Harry saved himself is sad. It removes the magic of the fact that in a way his Dad did save him. It removes all the work Hermione did with the Time-Turner. It chases away the magic of finding out about the Marauders. It changes the whole scene, and not in a good way. The beauty of that scene is the longing of an orphan to see his dad, of realizing he is going to have a home, of all of that culminating in a twist of realizing he can do the magic he needs to do. Focusing on Harry saving himself belittles all the other things going on to make the magic of that moment. Yes, Harry was armed with the knowledge that empowered him to fight, we all need that, cause we can’t save ourselves. Harry realized he was capable of a difficult spell and saved Sirius, himself, and Hermione. But he didn’t do it alone. He was only the final step.
So, dear readers, you may crack open one of my books someday and find that there are Knights, usually a bit muddy, and Damsels in Distress, usually ones with brains, yes. Because I love them. I, as a woman, like being saved. I like having a knight. You will also find Bands of Brothers, you will find Best Friends, and you will find Teams, Found Families, and Communities. You will not find people succeeding when they go it alone, because we all need help, we’re all dependent, and we all need to be saved.
I’m going to try and start posting on my blogs again. I had to step back cause of life, you know. My writing has also taken a major step back, but I have found ways of fitting it in here and there, in the cracks and crevasse of my life. In the spirit of posting again, I wanted to share a bit that got slashed, thrown out, tossed from my current WIP: The Stars are Still There. I had a whole scene in an antique store that just didn’t fit with the story, but I was very pleased with this description, so I wanted to share it.
(I’m not going to worry about giving you all the links to follow me on social media because I’m just not active on social media much any more, so just enjoy this, comment, and share as you please.)
The musty smell of old things—wood, cloth, leather, plastic, and glass—settled down around them. A wild menagerie of the past sat in every corner shelf, crook, hook, and socket available. Dishes filled with all the nostalgia of Grandma’s kitchen and home cooked meals. Clothing besotted with lace and glamor. Long gone games, music, and movie stars. Knick-knacks, baubles, and jewelry from an age of craft long forgotten in the age of mass production. Each once loved. Each once carefully selected to grace a home, or a woman, or given to a friend, but the story that they told, their storytellers were long ago buried and forgotten. The children’s children shed the burden of things, the soul connection severed by death and memories lost.
Now, in the crooks and on the hooks, piled, stacked, hidden, displayed, they wait, empty, alone, they wait for new connections or the final regulation to dust and decay. They wait to joyously find use, or the discarding into rubbish.
Imrie ran her hands over the glass cabinet displaying brooches, from garish to sublime.
Some day I want to use this as the outline for a Faerie Story.
He loved soldiers. He had once thought all men who wore the red coat were rogues and thieves, the scourings of the gutter, and since he had joined the army he had discovered he was right, but he had also learned to love them. He loved their patience, their ferocity, their endurance, and their bravery.
This quote is from Sharpe’s Fury by Bernard Cornwell. I love it.